The Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer’s CanCan program provides free health education workshops across the west coast. CanCan facilitators share their cancer journey with CanCan party attendees and help educate women on ovarian and breast health, while CanCan instructors educate women about their breast and ovarian health and cancer risks.
Say hello to Helen Chen, CanCan instructor and facilitator.
Where are you from? I’m from Sunnyvale, California — born and raised in the Bay Area.
Where do you live now? I live in San Francisco with my wife and pup, Daisy.
What do you do for fun? I like to explore the outdoors by hiking and camping. One of my favorite things to do is bring my family dogs to the beach and see them frolic around. I also play in a all-women’s basketball league in San Francisco and have been for the last 5 years.
What is your favorite mantra? Better together, stronger together.
What is your favorite drink? Bourbon (Eagle Rare or Four Roses) Manhattan. Never shaken, always stirred.
What advice would you give your younger self? Let your intuition determine your decisions more than everyone else’s opinions.
What are you most proud of? Building a community of people I love around me.
Where is your favorite place to travel? Living in Asia for 5 years has only made me yearn for more. I love Southeast Asia and the Middle East regions of the world. We’ve also been exploring the national parks in the U.S. the past few years and my mind has been blown by the beauty — and you don’t have to travel that far!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? That I have a twin sister.
Where do you go to find inspiration? I’m most inspired when I’m traveling. I also love reading about people’s passions and how they got there. That always seems to inspire me.
Where’s your happy place? The Pacific Ocean with my dogs.
Who is your role model/mentor? I’m reading Michelle Obama’s book right now and she’s pretty good role model material. I’m also a huge fan of Brene Brown. In terms of someone in my life — I would say my dad. He might be my favorite human on the planet 😉
HOW HELEN GOT INVOLVED
What inspired you to get involved with CanCan? CanCan appealed to me because at the time, I was looking for a way to let others know what happened to me. I felt it was important to share what I was going through and wished someone had educated me before I was diagnosed with cancer. I also loved that CanCan was a community program and everyone had access to the education they were presenting.
What is your favorite memory from a CanCan party? There have been so many fun memories over the years — it’s hard to pick just one. I always get a kick out of it when people really get into the games we play.
How can people help support someone going through cancer? I always tell people that saying something — even if you fear it might be the wrong thing to say — is better than not saying anything. When people retreat from you because they don’t know what to do or say can be extremely hurtful.
Someone going through cancer treatment is having to make lots of decisions regarding their treatment and care so relieving “decision making” burden can be extremely refreshing. For example, don’t make them figure out what they feel like eating — be sensitive, use your intuition, and then make a reasonable decision for them. It’s often easier for both parties.
What is the most important thing you want attendees to learn at a CanCan party? That you are going to be the best advocate for your own body and well-being. Not your parents or spouses, not your doctors, but you.
How many CanCan parties have you hosted/attended? I’ve probably taught over 150 CanCan workshops since first getting involved with the organization.
How many total attendees have you hosted? Thousands….
Do you have any events coming up? Surprisingly..no!
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CANCAN PROGRAM
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