In my family, the only known case of breast cancer was my maternal grandmother when she was around 50 years old. She had a single mastectomy with no reconstruction and that was it. However, my gynecologist advised that I should consider genetic testing because of my family history of other cancers. My mother was tested first and when she received her results I immediately went in for testing. It was then that I discovered I am BRCA+.
I met with a genetic counselor and we discussed all of my options for prevention and early detection such as surveillance, medications, and surgery. She also introduced me to Bright Pink and suggested their PinkPal program which matches young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer with fellow high-risk individuals. I immediately reached out and received a PinkPal. I was partnered with a wonderful woman who had been in my exact situation. She helped me feel confident, answered all of my questions, and made me feel at ease.
After my PinkPal helped me realize that I would be OK, I made a decision and a life plan of what I would do in regards to my BRCA+ status; I went through with surgery. After I recovered, I decided I was ready to support others.
I received a PinkPal in 2013 and I became a PinkPal in early 2014. It was important for me to provide that comfort for other women that my PinkPal provided for me. It’s nice to know that you have a support group when you’re going through something that affects your life so much.
I wanted to continue my journey of volunteering with Bright Pink so I attended Bright Pink University, a training program for volunteers, in the summer of 2014. There I learned how to present the Brighten Up Educational Workshop, which is a 30-minute presentation that covers the basics of breast and ovarian health, introduces the idea of different lifetime risk levels, and provides early detection and prevention strategies.
Completing Bright Pink University was one of the greatest things I have ever done. Not only has it been beneficial for me, but for others in my family and community as well.
I remember being nervous while waiting to present my first Brighten Up Workshop. It was at St John’s University in Queens. The group was really positive and asked lots of great questions. I’ll never forget that group – and I have educated new groups at St John’s University every year for the last three years. They always welcome me with open arms.
Being informed is an important factor in order to be in control of your health. I am honored and happy to be a part of an organization, like Bright Pink, that helps empower people to be proactive and teach them to take knowledge and turn it into something wonderful.
While a goal of mine is to educate as many women as possible, I’m a huge fan of smaller groups too, because women (and men) tend to ask more questions, share their stories, and feel more connected. I love the feeling of helping women understand that they have control over their health and can choose to be proactive.
Empowering women is something I am truly passionate about.
Becoming a Bright Pink ambassador has empowered me and I love the fact that I can help people dig into their family history and question their doctors. I always want to help others, especially women, and Bright Pink helps me accomplish this. My own family health history and personal genetics push me to help others realize that they are in control of their health and they don’t need to be afraid of their genetic testing results. I want everyone to know they can help themselves and their families and choose to be proactive.
Caitlin was inspired to volunteer with Bright Pink because of her genetic testing journey and her drive to empower others. Find out how you can make a difference in the lives of young women. Become a Bright Pink Education Ambassador or PinkPal today.