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Assess Your Risk, Community, Early Detection, Personal Stories

I collected my family health history. You should too.

Here we are, in the midst of the holiday season! The holidays create warm, joyous memories of family and friends–memories that can be held close as a sustaining thought on challenging days. As we look forward to a peaceful time filled with those we love, let’s commit to creating a new memory of putting our health first.

I can remember creating this memory last year with my family and all the valuable knowledge I gained from it. Leave it to my mother to make Christmas over the top, and this year was no different. Excitedly, she walked into the living room with a giant craft board and an announcement that we would be planning our very first family reunion. Overjoyed by the opportunity to get together with family I’ve never met, we began to write down names of family members to invite. Inevitably, this conversation turned into one about our family tree. As we went through each name, I listened intently to the stories my mom told of her memories with family members I hadn’t met, including their health history. Learning about my family history of high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes definitely was a light bulb moment of how their genetic makeup can influence my own. Knowing your family health history can help you identify if you if a higher-than-usual chance of common disorders.

I came across Bright Pink’s risk assessment tool this past October and was blown away with how easy and intuitive it was to plug in my details and discover my risk levels for breast and ovarian cancer. I jumped at the chance of sharing the risk assessment tool with our Beautiful Brown Girls community. Beautiful Brown Girls is a social organization for women of color that focuses on creating unique experiences that create a world that runs on love, inspiration, and acceptance. We pride ourselves on creating community and sister circles. We have learned that we are our sister’s keeper, which includes making sure each sister is proactively making healthy decisions.

Several deadly diseases strike Black Americans harder and more often than others, including breast and ovarian cancer. Part of the fight to change this statistic is knowing your genetic health history and being committed to improving your health education. I was able to use all the knowledge I received from my mother that Christmas morning to answer several simple questions about my family’s health history in Bright Pink’s risk assessment tool. As we sit around to make lifelong memories with our families this holiday, let’s add taking the time to make a new family memory around learning about our family tree to the top of the list.

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