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Ashley's Team
Personal Stories

I see this race as a way to restart and officially tackle the journey ahead of me: Ashley’s Story

Ashley motivated a group of friends to join her for a 5k and raised $7,000! Run any race and support Bright Pink.

All my life I knew my paternal grandmother’s history with fatal breast and ovarian cancer. She passed away in her 40’s, which resulted in my dad losing his mother at the age of 18. I always knew that she had either been dealt a really bad set of cards or had a genetic mutation.

I decided to ask my doctors about genetic testing. I spoke with a doctor about my paternal family health history and she told me that I had nothing to worry about because it was on my father’s side. As you can imagine, her explanation didn’t sit right with me, so I explored more on my own and learned that this was not true! I left that doctor’s practice and went to another one. My new doctor encouraged me to find out about the BRCA mutation and advised me to get tested. Shortly after that talk, I was walking out of her office with a bandage on my arm and genetic testing pamphlets to take back to my office.

Ashley Lavore

Those next few weeks were torture. I was connected with a genetic counselor on the phone, who screened me and asked extensive family history information. She shared how uncommon testing positive for a BRCA mutation was and I felt very optimistic, until I received her next call:

“Well, Ashley, I wish I had some better news to share with you but unfortunately, you tested positive for BRCA 1 mutation. This mutation increases your chance of breast cancer to 80% and ovarian to more than 50%.”

After the news settled in, I started taking action with preventive measures, including annual MRI’s and 6 month ovarian screenings. In January I will be undergoing a preventive double mastectomy and even though I’m absolutely terrified, I’m also excited to beat my odds with new modern medicine and surgery.

Bright Pink has always been an organization that I was familiar with for women’s health.  I’ve always admired Lindsay Avner’s story of creating a non-profit organization after she struggled to find her own resources at a young age to survive the BRCA mutation. I’m not the biggest runner, but, I had never felt more excited or passionate when it came to running the Life Time 5K on September 24 for Bright Pink. To be a 26-year-old woman, who is healthy and cancer-free, I found it a privilege to run for women everywhere, especially women who have or had cancer or are BRCA positive.

I see this race as a way to restart and officially tackle the journey ahead of me. I know my journey is going to be a lot longer than 3.1 miles but I’m ready for it.

Ashley's & friends

I have been so inspired by everyone’s selflessness and dedication to raising funds for this cause so near and dear to me. From friends choosing to spend their Sunday running a 5K, to family and friends donating to my page, and to my father’s hardware store in New York whose employees worked tirelessly to donate from their own paycheck to support Bright Pink, just means so very much. Every dollar counts and I was so honored to raise these funds for a group that is so passionate about supporting women’s health.

The power of sharing your story is so incredibly important. In less than 48 hours of sharing my story, we successfully raised more than $7,000 for Bright Pink!

On Sunday, September 24, my team and I ran. We ran for all the women out there who have lost their lives to breast and/or ovarian cancer. We ran for women recovering on a couch this very moment because they chose a preventive surgery. We ran for women who are still grasping their diagnosis and finding the best plan of action for them. Funds raised will give the next person the opportunity to receive the best care and support as they navigate their own journey.

It’s incredibly important that these resources continue to be available to women everywhere.

As someone who was absolutely scared and put off genetic testing until I was 25, I understand the fear that comes along with it. I chose to undergo genetic testing when I was in the prime of my career, finally getting settled into my skin and embarking on a relationship with someone who has still stuck by me through my crazy rollercoaster of emotions. Basically, I received the heaviest but most important news of my life at the worst possible time. But I’ve learned life is still really great after finding out my news. I now get to take control and beat the odds of cancer. My biggest dream is to get married and have children. I couldn’t imagine having that dream get squashed or shortened because I didn’t have this information available to me to save my life.

If you are reading this and have family history with breast or ovarian cancer, please get tested. I get to keep my life and live it to the fullest. If anything, I say I’m pretty darn lucky.

Fall races are coming up! Whether it’s a turkey trot, marathon, or bike ride; it’s easy to support to Bright Pink!

Personal Stories

Survivors face challenges everyday, so I chose to challenge myself

When Gabriela Morón lines up for the TCS New York City Marathon, it will be her fourth time taking on 26.2 miles. Having previously finished marathons in Chicago and Milwaukee, she is expecting this course to be the most difficult to run, but that hasn’t stopped her from tackling another challenge: fundraising for Bright Pink.

On November 6, Gabriela will represent Team Bright Pink with her run. Having a family history of ovarian cancer, she understands the importance of Bright Pink’s work.

“I, myself, carry the BRCA1 gene. It is important for me to educate and prepare myself for the unknown.”

Gabriela’s mother knew she was high-risk and underwent a preventive hysterectomy in 2009, and then a preventive mastectomy in 2011. It was through this journey that the hospital staff connected Gabriela’s family with Bright Pink.

“They said it would be a good opportunity for me to learn about [breast and ovarian health],” Gabriela explains, “and that I could better relate because it was coming from girls closer to my age. It is important for me to fundraise for Bright Pink so women can continue to be aware of what their options are and can choose to act on them.”

Gabriela has chosen to dedicate this marathon to her Aunt Pita, an ovarian cancer survivor who is determined to create a brighter future for the next generation.

“Survivors still face challenges every day, so I choose to challenge myself.”

This is not the first challenge Gabriela has taken on for Team Bright Pink. Last year, she ran the Chicago Half Marathon and raised over $1,800 for Bright Pink. This year, her goal for the NYC Marathon is $2,500. Reaching both goals would mean that Gabriela has personally empowered Bright Pink to teach over 1,730 women breast and ovarian cancer prevention!

To others who are fundraising for Bright Pink, Gabriela has a few words of advice, “Tell others why this charity is unique to you. And tell EVERYONE, you would be surprised how many people are willing to make a donation.”


Want to empower women’s breast & ovarian health with a run like Gabriela’s? Join Team Bright Pink to lock in your spot for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Personal Stories

Dianne Gunther: BRCA+ and #NotDoneYet

In 2011, I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which put me at high risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.

Receiving the news that I carried the potentially life-changing mutation was certainly frightening, but my future instantly started looking brighter once my doctor handed me a “Little Bright Book” that introduced me to Bright Pink.

After attending an Outreach event, where I met other young high-risk women who had undergone prophylactic surgery, my options started to seem less scary and I started thinking that surgery might be the right choice for me. I remained proactive by getting annual MRIs for several years, and when the timing was right for me, I decided to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in October 2015 at age 27. This means that I had my healthy breast tissue removed to lower my risk of developing cancer. I can now proudly say that my lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 5%!

Today, I volunteer as a Bright Pink Support Ambassador in Boston, which means that I organize monthly Outreach events for high-risk women in the Boston area. I continue to be impressed by the women I meet each month, and I look forward to both new and familiar faces. We talk about scary medical procedures, awkward dating scenarios, losing loved ones to cancer, and any other challenging experiences unique to young, high-risk women.

I chose to run the Chicago Marathon for Bright Pink because Bright Pink has had such a personal impact on my life.

I run for Team Bright Pink to raise money for Outreach events and resources, like the ones that were so helpful to me on my high-risk journey, and also to support the educational programs that empower ALL women to take control of their own health.

On a more personal level, the Chicago Marathon took place on October 9, 2016 — roughly one year after my surgery. I truly believe that Bright Pink has helped make my future infinitely brighter, and when I ran on October 9, I was thinking of how grateful I am to have a better chance at a healthy future ahead of me and the opportunity to share Bright Pink’s message with others.


Dianne is sharing her story to help demonstrate the importance of genetic testing and being proactive with breast and ovarian health. Dianne is #NotDoneYet until all women are educated about breast & ovarian cancer prevention and early detection. Donate to help make that possible.

Personal Stories

6 Women. 1 Race. 26.2 Miles.

For Kayla, Liz, Meghan, Christina and Vanessa, taking on the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon was a group decision. Their friend, Kristina, was about to undergo a preventive double mastectomy and was running to both challenge and distract herself from her upcoming surgery. Her friends, eager to show their support, didn’t think twice before deciding to join her.

Kristina was diagnosed with a BRCA-1 gene mutation at 25. Several years, a marriage and a baby later, the reality of Kristina’s risk hit home when she discovered a lump in her breast.

“I had to wait seven days [for the biopsy to come back]. I didn’t know my results, but I knew my risk,” she said. “I was so upset that I didn’t take action, didn’t get genetic counseling and didn’t do anything to help myself.”

A few Google searches later, Kristina found Bright Pink and, with it, a support network of high-risk women like herself.

Though her tumor came back benign, Kristina decided to undergo a risk-reducing double mastectomy. With several months left before her surgery, Kristina needed a distraction. That’s when she received an email about running the Chicago Marathon with Team Bright Pink.

“I’d never run a marathon, half-marathon, or even a 10k before. I’d probably only done 3 miles…ever!” she said.

But Kristina wouldn’t be running alone. Five other women joined her to show their support, including her sister, Vanessa, and childhood neighbor, Kayla.

“We definitely motivated each other throughout training,” Kayla laughed. “Kristina sent us positive emails before a run or after a hard run saying things like ‘I know it’s 85 degrees in July, but we’re going to feel so good after this!’

Marathon Team Bright Pink

For Kristina, her friend’s involvement wasn’t just about a marathon.

“They really put their lives on hold for this. They flew all the way to Chicago to run this marathon!” she said. “[My friends really] went all-in with me.”

So “all-in,” in fact, that Kristina and Kayla decided to commit more of their time to Bright Pink. This Spring, the pair will be going through Bright Pink University to become official Ambassadors.

“I want to spread the word to everyone, including average-risk women like myself,” Kayla said. “It’s so easy to run from something that isn’t a problem right now, but who is to say it won’t be a problem in the future?

Inspired by the help she received from Bright Pink, Kristina wants to use her position as an ambassador to pay it forward.

“To [be able to] share my story — knowing it could potentially change somebody’s life — is truly amazing.”


To learn more about Team Bright Pink or sign up for a race, including the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, visit TeamBrightPink.org.

Personal Stories

Like Mother Like Daughter

For Halloween, my daughter Maya chose to dress up as me — a Bright Pink Education Ambassador. When I was pregnant with Maya, I found out I carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, placing me at high risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. Finding out I was high risk allowed me the opportunity to be proactive against these diseases and, when Maya was 11 months, I chose to have a preventive mastectomy. Because of my experience, I became a Bright Pink Education Ambassador to help ensure all women have the same opportunity to know their risk and be proactive.

I want Maya and her two sisters to live in a world where all young women understand their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, are equipped to detect these diseases at early, treatable stages, and feel empowered to make lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of getting sick. I feel privileged to work toward these goals in my role as an Education Ambassador, presenting Brighten Up workshops and equipping women with the tools to live proactively.

Maya might not grasp the entirety of Bright Pink’s mission but her pride in dressing up as an Education Ambassador shows that she understands the importance of Bright Pink’s mission and the power of spreading the word about a cause that can change lives.

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