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#OCAM, Assess Your Risk

#AssessThenAct: All About Genetic Testing

Worrying about developing breast and ovarian cancer is only natural—but you don’t have to be in the dark about your risk factors. If you know or suspect that your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer, you have options. Genetic testing is a powerful tool that can help you put aside your doubts and become self-aware when it comes to your health. Getting a genetic test might be part of your personalized plan for cancer prevention—and knowing your risk factors is a key first step.

This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging everyone to #AssessThenAct: take the Assess Your Risk quiz, and then create a preventative action plan to protect your health. Get started in just 5 minutes today.

Take the Assess Your Risk Quiz

Sis, have you ever contemplated genetic testing (a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins)? It’s a powerful way to take charge of your breast and ovarian health that can 

  • Confirm or rule out a suspected mutation in your DNA or
  • Help determine your chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. 

While there can be significant benefits to the knowledge gained through genetic testing, we know this isn’t always easy, especially for women of color. We are not blind to the fact that there is mistrust in the medical system in part due to widely publicized experiments, and racial bias in the healthcare system. Before signing up for genetic testing, many Black women have to overcome deeply-rooted concern about the potential misuse of DNA results and mistrust of health research, which has not always benefited them and was sometimes conducted without their consent. We hope that learning more about the benefits of testing, what to expect, and which professionals to rely on throughout the process will help you make informed choices that are right for you.

Understanding Your Genetics is Important

When you want to be proactive about your health…

Understanding the basics of genetics—especially how mutations can lead to a higher risk of certain cancers—gives you better information about your overall health plan. About genetic testing. And about discussions to have with your healthcare provider.

When your family history indicates a pattern…

A family history of cancer may mean there’s an underlying genetic cause. Once you understand how genes and mutations work, you’re better equipped to work through your family history—and better equipped for conversations with your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor.

Your healthcare provider is likely to recommend testing if you have certain medically significant risk factors. If your personal or family health history includes any of the following (from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network), you should strongly consider testing.

  • Breast cancer by age 45
  • Breast cancer by 50 AND a close relative with breast or ovarian cancer by 50
  • Male breast cancer in your family
  • Breast cancer at any age AND two or more relatives with breast cancer at any age
  • Cancer in both breasts
  • Ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian cancer at any age
  • A close relative with a BRCA mutation or another mutation that increases the risk of developing cancer.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer

When you’re curious, or you want to fill in the gaps…

A complete family history means going back at least three generations. That’s not always possible, so understanding your own genetic makeup can help you—and your healthcare provider—work backward to fill in the gaps. And even if you’re simply curious about your own health, understanding your genetic risks is a proactive way to get a better overall view.

Asking the Right Questions

Finding someone to talk to is one thing, but being sure that you are asking the right questions… is another. Some questions that you should consider include:

  • Am I a candidate for genetic testing? Should I consider it?
  • Do you have any good ways to spark discussions with my relatives about our health history?
  • Based on my family history, what’s my chance of testing positive for a genetic mutation? What’s my projected risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer?
  • If someone in my family has tested positive for a known genetic mutation, what are the chances that I’m also a carrier?
  • What type of test do you recommend?
  • What’s our plan if I test positive, negative, VUS?
  • What type of cancer screenings do you recommend for me if I decide not to get tested?

We’ve gone ahead and created a full list of questions to help guide your conversations with your healthcare provider or genetic counselor.

At the end of the day, the more you understand about your personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer, the better equipped you’ll be to make the healthy choices that are right for you. So you can live your best life.

#OCAM, Assess Your Risk, Early Detection, Personal Stories

Why Early Detection Matters: Morgan’s Story

Did you know? About 21,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, and of those, 14,000 die from it. That’s essentially ⅔ ratio. This year, I became one of those 21,000; however, I’m also incredibly lucky to be one of the fortunate ones who caught it before it was too late.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is important to me because there is so much that we, as women, don’t know about our bodies and how we can be proactive about our health.

My Story

At 34, I was the epitome of a healthy young woman. I eat clean, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and wear sunscreen. One day, I walked into the doctor’s office and found out I have cancer.

My journey started with a gut feeling. In recent years, I’d had a number of friends who had confided in me about their trouble conceiving and, as an unmarried woman in my early 30’s who desperately wants children one day, I decided to trust my instincts and look into freezing my eggs.

At my initial appointment, the doctors gave me an ultrasound which revealed a large ovarian cyst on my right ovary. The doctors assured me it was nothing, “99% chance it’s benign” but nonetheless, they recommended I have surgery to remove it so it wouldn’t rupture and cause more severe internal damage. I reluctantly agreed.

Surgery number one was scheduled in September. The plan was to have the cyst removed and then I could proceed with egg freezing; however, after surgery, I walked in to my follow up appointment for the biopsy results and got the news everyone dreads hearing.

On October 5, 2017 I was diagnosed with immature teratoma (stage 1) ovarian cancer. As the doctors explained to me, the initial cyst was benign; however, during surgery, they found another tumor that none of the scans had shown. That tumor was cancerous.

The next few weeks were a blur. I saw numerous doctors for second and even third opinions to understand what was going on in my body and what was the best course of action for my treatment. After reviewing all options, the treatment plan was outlined to have surgery to remove my right ovary and, as long as the cancer hadn’t spread, I wouldn’t have to proceed with chemotherapy.

I felt so many emotions during those weeks leading up to surgery. I wondered how on earth this was happening to me, why I didn’t know and what signs I missed. As someone who is extremely type A, I scoured my calendar for missed annual appointments or anything of that nature and I came up short. I had done everything right, it just didn’t make sense.

Going into surgery was one of the scariest days of my life. I believed in my heart that I would be ok but I still saw the fear in everyone’s faces when they learned my story. But I’m nothing if not a fighter so I forged ahead, trying to remember to be brave like all those other women who’ve been through this battle too.

Luckily, on Thanksgiving that year after surgery #2, I was given the news that I was cancer-free. This means I would be closely monitored for the next year but essentially, I had a clean bill of health and wouldn’t need additional treatment.

As I stand here today, it’s certainly not lost on me how fortunate I am to have caught this early. And, when Bright Pink approached me to write this piece, I’m reminded of something I heard once that really stuck with me: It’s not luck that changes your fate. Everyone in this world will have situations that are “lucky.” It’s what you do with that luck that has the power to change the world.

For me, that’s why Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is so important. I’m standing here today, not with any large life lesson or sign/symptom that I can share to save you or your loved ones from cancer. Instead, I’m joining Bright Pink and telling you to Assess Then Act.

Listen up to your instincts. If you think something isn’t right, call your doctor. Who knows, it just may save your life. It saved mine.

One of the most impactful ways to protect yourself from an ovarian cancer scare is to become ovarian self-aware. Knowing your risk factors, like family history, physical features, and daily habits is the first step.

This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging everyone to #AssessThenAct: take the Assess Your Risk quiz, and then create a preventative action plan to protect your health. Get started in just 5 minutes today.

Take the Assess Your Risk Quiz

MORGAN BELLOCK is a Public Relations professional living in the Chicago area. You can get in contact with Morgan at [email protected]

Assess Your Risk, WNBA

The WNBA Teams Up With Bright Pink to Promote Breast Health Awareness

As part of Bright Pink’s ongoing efforts to put breast and ovarian health awareness into action, we’re excited to re-launch our partnership with the WNBA and its teams during WNBA FIT Month.

Bright Pink is a proud supporter of WNBA Breast Health Awareness (BHA), a campaign to promote the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer among young people. 

Each WNBA team will take part by hosting a Breast Health Awareness game, during which players will wear Nike BHA uniforms and on-court warm-up shirts.

Plus, to further spread awareness and encourage preventative action, Bright Pink and the WNBA are encouraging everyone with breasts and/or ovaries to participate in Assess Your Risk (AYR). The AYR quiz is a tool that helps individuals develop personalized plans to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.  

Take the Quiz

Over the last several years, more than 15,000 people have taken the Assess Your Risk quiz through the joint efforts of the WNBA and Bright Pink. Thanks to Assess Your Risk, those 15,000+ individuals have been empowered to develop strategies to reduce their risk and protect their health.

Assess Your Risk asks a handful of key questions about your body, family history, and daily habits—then gives you personalized recommendations for turning awareness into action. In just five minutes, you’ll take an important first step to reduce your risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

Take the Quiz

Show your support by spreading the word about WNBA Breast Health Awareness: share this on social media, talk with your friends, and grab one of these exclusive Nike Breast Health Awareness shirts. The WNBA is donating 100% of its proceeds from the shirts to Bright Pink.

Purchase Your T-shirt

Knowledge is power. Thank you for supporting Bright Pink and the WNBA’s efforts to spread breast and ovarian health awareness, encourage prevention and early detection and save lives from breast and ovarian cancer.

Assess Your Risk, Uncategorized

Why Assessing Your Risk Is Still Important, National Authority Agrees

You’ve probably heard of USPS, but are you familiar with USPSTF? And no, we’re not talking about your mail.

Let us introduce you to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of independent, volunteer medical experts who provide evidence-based guidelines for preventive care. 

This group takes great care in weighing all the benefits, costs, and potential drawbacks of preventive actions before they present their final guidelines. When they say a screening or procedure is worthwhile, you can rest assured that there is plenty of evidence behind the statement. 

That is why Bright Pink is excited to share the USPSTF’s recent update regarding BRCA mutations screening. 

This week, the USPSTF announced that primary care providers should provide BRCA screening for women who a) have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry or b) have a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer in addition to women who have a family history linked to breast and ovarian cancer. 

Knowing ourselves and our risks empowers us to take important actions to improve our health. Mutations in the Breast Cancer genes greatly increase a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (up to 70%) and ovarian cancer (up to 50%). Women can manage and reduce these risks – but only if they know they have a BRCA mutation in the first place. 

Thanks to years of research, we know that certain women are more at risk of having a BRCA mutation. In the past, medical providers mainly relied on a family history of breast, ovarian, or related cancers to screen women for these mutations. 

We applaud this update to the guidelines, as it recognizes the importance of knowing yourself and the value of assessing your risk. Do you know your risk? It only takes 5 minutes to Assess Your Risk using our online tool. It’s an assessment approved by the National Society of Genetic Counselors that includes nationally recognized cancer screening criteria and other risk factors to help all women better understand their breast and ovarian cancer risk. 

The USPSTF’s update could affect you. Share your Assess Your Risk results with your provider to start a conversation about your breast and ovarian health and how you can create a personalized action plan so you can live healthy. Already assessed your risk? Make sure your family history is up to date by filling out our Family Health History form. Share it with your family and your provider to remind them that knowledge is power. 

Hey Sis

What’s the 4-1-1: Genetic Testing

A major part of living your #breastlife is getting familiar with your girls, but how familiar are you? What’s the 4-1-1 gives you the tea on everything you need to live your very best life and empower you to get familiar with your lady bits.

 

Sis, have you ever contemplated genetic testing (a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins)? It’s a powerful way to take charge of your breast and ovarian health that can 

  • Confirm or rule out a suspected mutation in your DNA or
  • Help determine your chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. 

While there can be significant benefits to the knowledge gained through genetic testing, we know this isn’t always easy, especially for women of color. We are not blind to the fact that there is mistrust in the medical system in part due to widely publicized experiments, and racial bias in the healthcare system. Before signing up for genetic testing, many Black women have to overcome deeply-rooted concern about the potential misuse of DNA results and mistrust of health research, which has not always benefited them and was sometimes conducted without their consent. We hope that learning more about the benefits of testing, what to expect, and which professionals to rely on throughout the process will help you make informed choices that are right for you.

 

Understanding Your Genetics is Important

 

When you want to be proactive about your health…

Understanding the basics of genetics—especially how mutations can lead to a higher risk of certain cancers—gives you better information about your overall health plan. About genetic testing. And about discussions to have with your healthcare provider.

 

When your family history indicates a pattern…

A family history of cancer may mean there’s an underlying genetic cause. Once you understand how genes and mutations work, you’re better equipped to work through your family history—and better equipped for conversations with your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor.

Your healthcare provider is likely to recommend testing if you have certain medically significant risk factors. If your personal or family health history includes any of the following (from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network), you should strongly consider testing.

  • Breast cancer by age 45
  • Breast cancer by 50 AND a close relative with breast or ovarian cancer by 50
  • Male breast cancer in your family
  • Breast cancer at any age AND two or more relatives with breast cancer at any age
  • Cancer in both breasts
  • Ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian cancer at any age
  • A close relative with a BRCA mutation or another mutation that increases the risk of developing cancer. 
  • Triple negative breast cancer

 

When you’re curious, or you want to fill in the gaps…

A complete family history means going back at least three generations. That’s not always possible, so understanding your own genetic makeup can help you—and your healthcare provider—work backward to fill in the gaps. And even if you’re simply curious about your own health, understanding your genetic risks is a proactive way to get a better overall view.

 

Asking the Right Questions

Finding someone to talk to is one thing, but being sure that you are asking the right questions… is another. Some questions that you should consider include:

  • Am I a candidate for genetic testing? Should I consider it?
  • Do you have any good ways to spark discussions with my relatives about our health history?
  • Based on my family history, what’s my chance of testing positive for a genetic mutation? What’s my projected risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer?
  • If someone in my family has tested positive for a known genetic mutation, what are the chances that I’m also a carrier?
  • What type of test do you recommend?
  • What’s our plan if I test positive, negative, VUS?
  • What type of cancer screenings do you recommend for me if I decide not to get tested?

We’ve gone ahead and created a full list of questions to help guide your conversations with your healthcare provider or genetic counselor.

At the end of the day, the more you understand about your personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer, the better equipped you’ll be to make the healthy choices that are right for you. So you can live your best life.

#CallYourDoctorDay

Treat Yo’ Self This Summer: Prioritize Your Health

With it officially being the half-way mark of 2019 (we know, HOW is already June?!), it is the perfect time to take stock of what you have accomplished so far and think about the goals on your list you’d like to check off. Maybe this is the year you read more, the year you stick to your exercise routine or the year you treat yo’ self. But one action you definitely have to take if you haven’t so far is scheduling your annual well-woman exam. This check-up is a major component in your breast and ovarian cancer prevention and early detection strategy.

Even though Bright Pink’s official Call Your Doctor Day isn’t until Tuesday, June 11, why not get a jump start and begin maintaining your breast and ovarian health by calling and scheduling your appointment today? Here are some tips for calling the office to set up your appointment:

  • Now is the perfect time to schedule your exam since it’s the beginning of the month. The end of the month gets hectic at the OB-GYN when birth control prescriptions tend to run out and patients need refills ASAP. Avoid getting crowded out by last-minute appointments and call early in the month.
  • Schedule your appointment around popular days and time slots. The most popular days to visit the OB-GYN are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the most booked times (daily) are 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. Unless you need to see your doctor at these times, be flexible with the receptionist.
  • Prepare for your visit. Another part of the new year for you might include insurance turnover, so make sure you have your updated info for the receptionist when you arrive (and arrive early!).
Ok ladies, now it’s time to get your health in formation. 💃🏽💃🏽 Are you ready to schedule your well-woman exam? Pick up the phone and call your doctor today- it’s the best way to really treat yo’ self. brightpink.org/annual

Bright Pink is dedicated to empowering young women to have life-saving conversations with their doctors about breast and ovarian health. Learn more about how to foster this positive relationship at BrightPink.org. And don’t forget your printable guide on what to ask your doctor.

 

#MoreForMom

A Match for Ellen

Longtime Bright Pink supporter, Brianna Meade, shares her personal connection to Bright Pink’s mission as well as her special relationship with her mother, Ellen.

Throughout the month of May, Brianna and her family are matching all donations (up to $10,000) through the Ellen Marks Cancer Foundation, a foundation created to honor her mother’s legacy. Read on to learn more about Brianna and how she’s honoring her mother’s legacy by being proactive about her health.

Hometown

Chicago

How did you first hear about Bright Pink?

I met the founder Lindsay [Avner] through a mutual friend and was so inspired to hear about Bright Pink’s work.

Why did you and your family choose to support Bright Pink?

My mother carried the BRCA2 gene (unknowingly) and she passed away eight years ago due to complications with her long fight with metastatic breast cancer.

I underwent genetic testing, not knowing that my mother was a carrier. I had people, even doctors, telling me I did not fit the typical profile for a carrier, which is ridiculous because I do indeed have the BRCA2 gene. Due to a positive test, I immediately went to my OBGYN only to find out I had breast cancer. I was only 33. I had a radical double mastectomy eight days after my diagnosis followed by months of treatment. So to say the cause [Bright Pink] is near and dear to our heart is almost an understatement.

What do you want our community to know about your mother?

It’s hard to explain how much you love your mother in words, right?

I was beyond lucky to have her. Even though it wasn’t long enough, she taught me how to be the strong woman I am today. She was wise, loving, deeply caring, an adventure seeker, classy, intelligent and someone people came to for advice.

She was private about her health struggle, (it was incredibly hard on her) and there was nothing more she wanted then to be here right now [today]. She was the fiercest fighter I have ever met, all while doing it with dignity and grace.

What are your favorite memories of your mom?

There are so many; she was my best friend. The person I called every morning, noon and night. But I’ll go with the last great memory we had together. We went to Paris for my 30th birthday. It was a magical time for me, I was always in awe of my mother and there was just something so alluring about her. On this trip, I felt like she was finally letting me in on all of her little ways and secrets, and I just gobbled it all up. We laughed and talked for hours on that trip and it’s burned into my memory.

How can people learn more about the Ellen Marks foundation?

It’s a foundation my family started in honor of our mom. We work primarily with cancer charities and [we] have a close relationship with Northshore Hospitals.

Advice for fellow moms?

Oh gosh, I don’t know we are all just trying our best!  I guess I would say just try and be present, honest and open with them [children]. My two little ones are my whole world and I made a promise to myself to shower them with love, honesty, and openness while also giving them discipline when needed and structure.

Also please make time for yourself when it comes to your health! My son was six months old when I undergone genetic testing, and seven months old when I was diagnosed. I am beyond thankful I made my health a priority even during the throes of new motherhood.

What do you want other women to know about taking control of their health?

I’d love to see the fear come out of it. I hear sometimes, “oh I’d just rather not know,” or “it’s too scary to find out my genetic history.” I always say it’s actually scarier not to know!

Knowledge is power, take that in. You can be proactive about something that could change the trajectory of your life. You become empowered with knowledge and options instead of fear and worry.

Any Words of Wisdom on how to make prevention a priority?

To put it simply, I may not be here right now if I didn’t make my health and prevention a priority. I found my cancer at a treatable stage but do I wish I had known about this [BRCA] gene earlier in life so I could have taken the route of prevention instead of treatment. I can’t change that. I did change [my narraritive] when it came to getting my preventative oophorectomy last year. I was ready and felt very empowered by my choice of prevention.

It’s 2019 and it’s time to evolve and to start a new way of thinking about our health.

 

#MoreForMom

Mama Motivation

Curious about what motherhood has to do with breast and ovarian health?

Becoming a mom is quite an undertaking, both emotionally and physically. Our bodies go through changes, and while some of them more visible than others (oh, hello stomach wrinkles), a few of those changes impact our breast and ovarian cancer risk!

Let’s start with pregnancy.  Pregnancy transforms and stabilizes the cells in our breasts that comprise milk-producing glands and ducts, so the earlier this transformation happens, the lower the risk of breast cancer. Some studies have shown that women with first pregnancies under the age of 30 have a 40-50% lower risk of breast cancer than women who gave birth later or who were never pregnant.

Pregnancy can also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer. During pregnancy, your body is not ovulating. The lack of our monthly cycle during this time decreases the amount of ovarian cell activity and therefore the number of chances for ovarian cells to “go rogue” during cell division.

Breastfeeding can also play a role in your risk reduction strategy. Though breastfeeding may not be for everyone, breastfeeding for 1-2 years (not necessarily consecutively), can lower your risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. When breastfeeding, many women do not ovulate. So similarly to pregnancy, this break in ovarian cell activity can be protective for your ovaries, and all decreases the amount of estrogen in your body.  It also may reduce a female baby’s overall risk of developing breast cancer later in her life.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, our breasts go through a TON of changes (thank you hormones).. In order to practice breast self-awareness during this time, It’s important to know what changes are expected, and what might merit a conversation with a provider. Although pregnancy associated with breast cancer is rare, it is important to be aware of the possibility. Make sure you notify your provider about any new symptoms including the following:

Breast changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding:

  • Tenderness & discomfort
  • Enlargement
  • Blue veins
  • Darker areolas
  • Areola bumps
  • Nipple discharge of colostrum, a thick yellow liquid that boosts the immune function of newborns in the very early stages of breastfeeding
  • Growth
  • Stretch marks

Things to bring to your provider:

  • Unusual nipple discharge that is unlike colostrum
  • Breast lumps. Usually, these lumps are not a cause for concern. They are often either: galactoceles, which are clogged milk ducts, or fibroadenomas, which are benign breast tumors. These symptoms are likely to be harmless, but it is a good idea to have an expert take a look because of how complicated our lady parts can be during this time
  • Swelling, soreness or rash
  • Warmth, redness or darkening
  • Dimpling or puckering of skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on nipple
  • Nipple that becomes flat or inverted
  • New, persistent pain in one spot
  • Persistent itching
  • Bumps that resemble bug bites
  • Cyst (benign mass made of water) including galactoceles and fibroadenomas.

If a new or suspicious symptom does arise in pregnancy, your provider may recommend consultation with a breast radiologist for diagnostic imaging of the breast. During pregnancy, the imaging work up usually starts with an ultrasound. During breast feeding, a mammogram may sometimes also be performed along with an ultrasound for evaluation in a patient with symptoms. If you are breastfeeding and a mammogram is going to be performed, your radiologist will likely ask you to pump or feed before the mammogram. Some breast centers have hospital grade pumps available, but if you’re more comfortable with your own, bring it just in case!

For high-risk women without symptoms who have started an annual screening program, mammograms and MRI examinations will not be performed during pregnancy. However, bilateral whole breast ultrasound is a great alternative screening tool during pregnancy. Although mammograms can be obtained during breastfeeding, they are limited due to lactation changes and again bilateral whole breast screening ultrasound may be a good alternative for screening during this time in high-risk patients. You can contact your breast imaging center to find out when they recommend resuming annual screening mammography after pregnancy (most places recommend 3-6 months after breast feeding). Screening MRI can be resumed once breast feeding is finished.

The ongoing struggle: managing motherhood and your health

Motherhood comes with so many rewards, but also great challenges. Balancing the demands of family responsibilities along with other life pressures can be tricky. The one thing that should not be sacrificed amongst it all is Y-O-U! It is imperative to take time to keep up with your annual well-woman exams, cancer screenings, and healthy lifestyle behaviors. Not only for your own health but to also set a wonderful example for your children!

Here are some resources for the moms in our community managing their breast and ovarian health while raising kids:

#MoreForMom

Grief & Mother’s Day: 5 ways to thrive

Some believe that grief is the last act of love we have to give to those who have transitioned. I think that grief is love with nowhere to go. -Simone Banks

Mother’s Day can be a triggering time of year for those whose mother or mother-figure has passed on. Between the incredibly moving commercials, Target aisle displays, social media posts, and everything in-between, we understand that this time of year can be difficult. We recently spoke with Simone Banks, counselor, about how to truly thrive.

Feel all the feelings you want to feel

Emotions are like waves, and I genuinely believe that they have to rise and fall in a safe place as they please. It’s ok to be sad leading up to Mother’s Day, and it’s ok to think about all of the things you wish they were here for, and it’s ok to feel not much of anything. Give yourself time and space to be sad, angry, happy and anything in between.

Homework: have some alone time leading up to Mother’s Day, write in a journal, write your mother/ mother-figure a letter, practice self-care and be patient with yourself and your feelings.

Talk about them to someone who understands

When losing a loved one, talking about them and how they made an impact on your life will help you not only practice gratitude, but also feel that you are not alone. Grief can make you feel like you are the only one feeling this way and talking it out will help.

Homework: talk to the people that knew your mother/ mother-figure the best and discuss all the things you loved about them. Whether it is reminiscing about a funny story, watching home videos together, or simply listening to stories about how they were when they were younger.

Honor their memory daily

I learned this tip from my mom; when a loved one passes away, remember and honor them by enhancing your life with one of their greatest qualities. Whether it was their business acumen or their artistic flair, try to bring that to your own experience as a daily tribute.

Homework: Write down three things you truly loved about them and pick one that you can incorporate into your life. If there was a cause or mission that they were very passionate about, supporting that cause is one way to continue their legacy.

Have a Mother’s Day Game Plan

Decide earlier in the week how you plan to spend the day. Mother’s Day is a time to practice self-care and boundaries. Minimalize your triggers and focus on how you feel in the moment. You do not have to have a by-the-hour plan, however, having a general idea of how you plan on spending the morning, afternoon and evening of Mother’s Day is a major key.

Homework: Carve out some quiet time the morning of Mother’s Day and think of your loved one. You can either do some of their favorite things or eat their favorite food. Consider letting others in your life know that you may be off-line for the morning (or longer if you choose to). It is best to have a plan that involves others during the day and a plan if you decide to be alone.

Create new traditions

Your mother/ mother-figure would want you to live a full life and it is ok to show them that you are growing from sadness. It does not mean you do not miss or love them any less or that they are forgotten. Honor them by living every moment of your life to the best of your ability. Put a new spin on traditions you shared together, remember the love, and spread those warm feelings to others.

Homework: Think of one of your best day(s) ever with your loved one. What did that day consist of? A great breakfast? An amazing movie? A hike in your favorite park? Do not be afraid to continue to experience great days with the people in your life. Honor them by creating new memories and by living your very best life.

Simone French Hall Banks M.Ed is a counselor in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has her Bachelors of Arts in History from Howard University and her Masters of Education in Counselor Education from Louisiana State University. Simone is passionate about helping women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community. In her free time, she loves to explore Charlotte, NC with her husband, Christopher.

#MoreForMom

Do More For Mom

Mama, you are appreciated.” -2Pac

This Mother’s Day we are celebrating and honoring the incredible women who have helped to mold us into the empowered and kick-ass women we are today.

At Bright Pink, we’re proud to provide important programs and resources that help women better understand and manage their breast and ovarian cancer risk. And this Mother’s Day, we’re giving you an opportunity to pay it forward so even more women can be impacted by our work.  When you make a gift in celebration of your mom, mother-figure, or mom’s everywhere, now through the end of May, all donations, (up to $10,000), will be matched thanks to the Ellen Marks Foundation. This Match for Mom is just way to do #moreformom at this special time of year. For all donations made via our Classy page, you will get a special e-card to pass along to a mom you love.

Your gift will help us ensure more mom’s everywhere can live healthier, happier, longer lives. Because when women are healthy, families are strong, communities prosper, and the world is brighter.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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