Rivkin Center and Women’s Cancer Advocacy Group CanCan Join Forces

Press Release · March 7, 2016

CanCan to Become the New Education Arm of the Rivkin Center,
Extending Awareness and Educational Outreach
About Ovarian and Breast Cancer

The Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer has merged with CanCan to add ovarian and breast cancer education and awareness as the third component of its programming, which to date has focused exclusively on ovarian cancer research and early detection screening. This expanded focus on education will delivered using the CanCan name at workshops overseen by CanCan Founder Heike Malakoff, who has been appointed Director of Education. The workshops are expected to reach up to 10,000 women in Washington, Oregon, and California in 2016.

Founded in Seattle in 1996, the Rivkin Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working toward a vision that women no longer die of ovarian cancer, a disease that currently causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Established in Seattle in 2005, CanCan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on empowering women to be proactive about their health by giving them the tools for early detection, prevention, and self-advocacy. The organization has educated more than 30,000 women to date through a workshop format that has been historically focused on educating women about breast cancer, a disease that is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

The merger is designed to address a vital need to increase awareness about ovarian cancer and to strengthen the fight against this disease, especially as new medical advances continue to happen.

“Exciting new research discoveries about the interplay of genetics and environmental factors related to cancer prevention and early detection are at the forefront of health care today,” said Thomas Brown, M.D., Executive Director of the Swedish Cancer Institute and Board Member of the Rivkin Center. “With the Rivkin Center at the intersection of cutting edge research and education, we can bring data-driven messages much more quickly to women who can then proactively be more vigilant about ovarian and breast cancer prevention and screening as well as cancer survivorship, if a diagnosis occurs.”

Ovarian and breast cancer are two of the most serious diseases facing women today. Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis in women in the United States – 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Significant medical advances have been made in the last 30 years to allow many breast cancers to be diagnosed early, when the five-year survival rate is greater than 90%. Ovarian cancer is less common (1 in 67 U.S. women will develop the disease in their lifetime), but it is one of the most deadly cancers facing women-2 out of 3 of the women diagnosed will die from the disease. By moving forward with conversations about ovarian and breast cancers together, the Rivkin Center hopes to educate women about both diseases by first broaching the subject of breast cancer which may be more comfortable for some women to discuss. In addition, about 10-15% of ovarian cancers and 5-10% of breast cancers are known to be caused by inherited changes in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, so addressing these cancers together will also create an opportunity to talk about the genetic link and the role of family history.

Merging with an already up-and-running women’s cancers education program will allow the Rivkin Center to start delivering this life-saving education more quickly. “When you put these organizations together, you get a powerhouse of research, high-risk screening, and educational programs that support women in an effort to keep them healthy,” said Rivkin Center Executive Director, Joe White.

“By serving as the educational arm of the Rivkin Center, CanCan will be able to reach an even broader audience of women and educate future generations on both ovarian and breast cancer, and ultimately save more women’s lives,” said Malakoff.

The Rivkin Center’s primary focus on research and screening will not change. Adding this proven educational model will help educate and empower a broader audience of women and extend its research and screening efforts into prevention and wellness.

CanCan will cease to operate as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit as of March 7, 2016, at which point it will become the educational program for the Rivkin Center. CanCan will remain the name of the joint ovarian and breast cancer education program. Two of CanCan’s board members, Jamie Shanks and Katherine Stueland, have joined the board of the Rivkin Center.

Both CanCan and the Rivkin Center were started from personal experiences. Rivkin Center Founder, Saul Rivkin, M.D. was inspired by his late wife’s battle with ovarian cancer to ensure that none of his five daughters would face a similar fate. In the case of CanCan, Malakoff was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34 with three young children. What started as personal passions has transformed into public good, with millions of dollars granted to research projects nationally and internationally, and thousands of women educated and screened to strengthen the fight against women’s cancers.

Questions about the merger? View frequently asked questions and answers here. (PDF)