Teens 4 Pink Empowers Teens to Take a Proactive Role in their Family's Breast Health

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 3/13/2014, 2:48 p.m.
Sisters Network, the only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization, announced today the launch of Teens 4 Pink, a ...

Sisters Network, the only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization, announced today the launch of Teens 4 Pink, a new program that aims to educate and empower African American teens to change the way their family members think and act about breast health. The program, sponsored by Eisai Inc., is being piloted in Houston, TX and Memphis, TN, two cities where African American women with breast cancer face some of the highest mortality rates in the country.1 Through participation in the program, teens are provided with the knowledge and tools they need to start a dialogue with their loved ones about breast cancer, driving the importance of early detection and urging annual check-ups and mammograms.

While African American women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than Caucasian women, they are more likely to die from the disease.2,3 Studies have suggested a variety of reasons for these long-standing disparities, including more advanced disease at the time of diagnosis and a longer time between diagnosis and the start of treatment.4 In addition, African American women have far lower rates of screening for breast cancer than their Caucasian counterparts.4 By tapping into the energy and tenacity of teens, this program seeks to create sustainable change across the African American community, one family at a time. Teens that participate in Teens 4 Pink will become 'Pink Ambassadors' and work to educate their family members and loved ones about breast health.

"Throughout my 20-year breast cancer survivorship journey, I would often talk to my own granddaughters about my experience as a breast cancer survivor and, they in turn would discuss the importance of breast health with their peers," said Karen Eubanks Jackson, founder and CEO, Sisters Network. "It was their enthusiasm for the cause at such a young age that inspired me to develop Teens 4 Pink. Our goal is not only to educate and empower teens, but to let them know that they can truly make a difference in their family and their community."

Teens 4 Pink consists of in-person educational sessions where participating teens learn about various topics related to breast health, including how regular screening can detect breast cancer early on and lead to better outcomes. These teens are then asked to interview their female blood relatives and encourage them to take action to address their own breast health.

"Eisai is proud to support Sisters Network in this innovative 'teen-up' approach to help address the serious issues that impact the survival of African American women with breast cancer," said Christine Verini, vice president, Corporate Communications and Advocacy at Eisai, Inc. "The teen years are a perfect time to engage teens and give them a sense of their own power to take a proactive role in their family's breast health."

Teens 4 Pink pilot programs began in Houston and Memphis in January and expect to reach 1,000 teens before the school year ends in May. Teens are recruited through local Girl Scouts troops, schools and churches. Data is collected before and after each session to examine how well information is retained by teens, and to track the results of family conversations. As the number of participants continues to grow, Sisters Network is hopeful this data will show that progress is being made in these two communities.

In addition to the local sessions in Houston and Memphis, Teens 4 Pink is working to build awareness of the role that African American teens nationwide can play in their own families. Teens4Pink.org was recently launched and provides teens with the background and resources they need to start a dialogue about breast health with their family. Learn more at www.Teens4Pink.org.