“Will there ever be a cure for cancer?” “Can pets get cancer?” “Can the body find and kill cancer cells?” “Do cancer screenings cost money?” “What are the most common symptoms of cancer?” “Can males get breast cancer?” “What is the most common cancer?” Young people have lots of questions about cancer. And it’s no wonder; in the US, almost 40% of the population will have the disease at some point in their lifetime*, so it’s unfortunately very common and most teens and preteens know someone who has been diagnosed with it. They know it’s dangerous, but to most of them, it’s an older person’s disease that’s shrouded in mystery. And they’re curious. “Why can skin cancer be deadly?” “Why does cancer treatment make your hair fall out?” So, it’s a fantastic time to open a dialog with them about cancer and this is just what we do with our classroom presentations; we start by shedding some light on what cancer is, how it progresses, and why it can be so dangerous. We talk about why it is important to catch cancer before it spreads, how we can detect it early on, and some of the ways that cancer is treated. And then we talk about what choices we can make to reduce our risk of ever having to hear the words, “You have cancer”. See, many of the reasons we get cancer are the result of maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle, and we develop the habits that literally shape our risk of getting cancer when we are still fairly young. And we all know that the longer we live with destructive habits, the harder they are to change, so the best strategy for developing healthy habits is to break away from unhealthy ones early or to never develop them to begin with! So educating people when they are school-age offers them an excellent chance at keeping their lifetime cancer risk down. At BCFF, we help students understand what statistics say our lifetime risk is for developing cancer and how their lifestyle choices can affect that risk. We help them see why keeping their bodies in excellent health is so important and just what habits to avoid to keep their cancer risk as low as possible. And you know what else is great about educating teens and preteens? They can be wonderful communicators and when they learn something that inspires them, they will tell just about anyone who will listen! Many of the students who hear our presentation take what they learn and will not only apply it to their own lives, but will share it with their families and friends, too. “Hey, Dad, did you know that not exercising increases your cancer risk? Let’s go take a walk!” “Um, Mom, did you go get your mammogram yet?” They help spread our cancer-fighting impact well beyond the classroom! For these reasons and more, educating the youth in our community about cancer and cancer prevention is one excellent way to fight this devastating disease! End it with education!!