How Shaney Jo Darden is rebranding breast cancer awareness for young women

The next time you snap a photo of yourself, you can also support research to eradicate a deadly disease. Shaney Jo Darden, the founder of breast cancer awareness foundation Keep A Breast is harnessing the power of selfies to help communicate the importance of early detection of the disease.

Through the hashtag #CHECKYOURSELFIE and a three-finger photo pledge, Darden is encouraging young women to look after their health and combat cancer, to coincide with breast cancer awareness month. Her campaign aims to get women to pledge to do monthly self-checks—and to spread the word via social media.

If Darden’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s been doing this kind of consciousness-raising work a long time.

She’s the force behind those I <3 Boobies wristbands, and many other cancer awareness initiatives, like the annual Keep a Breast fashion show. She began her involvement in the cause when a friend of hers was diagnosed with the disease and none of the ways to show support seemed age-appropriate. ““Everything was pink and pink ribbons,” she told ST San Diego. “It all seemed geared toward old ladies.”

Darden’s mission is to bring the news about breast cancer education and prevention to a younger set than the one that organizations traditionally targeted.

And it’s not just an attempt to bring in more money for research for the disease, it’s an effort to save lives. Young women are at risk of the disease, and they aren’t always as vigilant about checking themselves for the symptoms. According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer kills more women ages 15 to 34 than any other cancer.

Which is why Darden is hoping to hook them where they’re looking: On Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and the host of other social media sites. “Young women and teens are obsessed with their phones,” Darden told Shape Magazine. “You won’t find us educating in the doctor’s office. It’s where you live. It’s on your phone. Never let anyone tell you you’re too young for breast cancer.”

Breast cancer education is so important because about forty percent of the time it’s self-detected. With more information and more education, Darden posits, the detection rate will climb, making it more likely to stop the disease in its earliest stages. “It starts with you,” Darden said, noting that women can download the Check Your Self app for more information on early detection. “Get into the routine of checking yourself, tell your friends, and when you’re with them, talk about it!”

For more information on Darden’s organization, check out her site. And for more details on Breast Cancer Awareness Month—including early detection plans, and fundraising programs—check out

(Image via)

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