Teens for Screens is new to UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Started in 2018 by the San Francisco Cancer Initiative breast cancer task force, a Teens for Screens chapter was brought here when Laura Fejerman, associate director of the cancer center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement, joined UC Davis in 2020.

Fejerman helped develop the program while she was an associate professor at UC San Francisco. The program was piloted at the high school level, training teen breast cancer educators to take breast cancer awareness messages home to their mothers and other relatives.

“We’ve added a new twist to the Teens for Screens program at UC Davis. We now seek to train undergraduate college students as breast cancer educators who, in turn, are educating middle and high school students either in person or remotely,” Fejerman said. “As a part of our efforts, we are partnering with high schools with high populations of underserved groups, such as low-income students and minorities, to provide them with information about breast cancer and the importance of screening.”

Brittany Clary is one of the co-founders and the current president of Teens for Screens at UC Davis. As an undergraduate student, she started the campus club and has been recruiting members, which now number 60. More than 20 have become trained breast cancer health educator mentors, meeting with students in health and biology classes and other events to recruit teens to become breast cancer educators in their own homes.

“One of the most common experiences we have witnessed is the lack of awareness of breast cancer and the stigmatization of breast cancer,” Clary said. “Many students are not aware of how social determinants affect the risk of breast cancer or the survivability of the disease.”

Like many of her fellow Teens for Screens volunteers, Clary has been personally touched by breast cancer and is passionate about spreading awareness to help save lives. Clary’s mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor and had a double mastectomy when Clary was in third grade. Her grandmother also survived breast cancer as well as bone cancer.

Both Clary’s mother and grandmother are Indigenous women from Guatemala.

She found out about Teens for Screens when she came across the Fejerman Lab while taking a public health class.

“When I realized that Dr. Fejerman’s lab focused on genetic research on breast cancer in Latinas and Indigenous women I felt inspired to get involved,” Clary said.

She believes that many women like her mother may avoid screenings because they fear diagnosis of a disease that could make them unable to care for their families. She knows, however, that screenings can detect breast cancer at early stages, thereby improving the chances of survival.

“A lot of what we do at Teens for Screens is combatting stigmas in place through education and providing informational steps on how to have a healthy conversation about breast cancer. We also give the teens the tools to take their message home and to their neighborhoods,” Clary said.

Along with visual aids to explain how to do breast self-exams, Teens for Screens provides information in English and Spanish about free breast cancer resources, such as California’s Every Woman Counts program that performs screenings and diagnostic services free of charge to underserved women.

Teens Screens Program

For more information on the Every Woman Counts program, call 800-511-2300. If you are diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, free treatment is available to all Californians who qualify through the California Department of Health Care Services’ Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. For more information, call 800-824-0088.