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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:

Hey Sis

What’s the 4-1-1: Breast Density

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.

 

Breast density has been all over the news the past few weeks with the FDA proposing a new rule that would require mammogram providers to tell women if they have dense breasts which would be a major win for women everywhere. Did you know that about 40% of women in the United States have dense breasts- with Black women having a higher rate? We have the lowdown on what exactly is breast density and how to find out if your girls are dense.

What does it mean if I have dense breasts?

Your breasts contain several types of tissue, from glandular lobes that create milk when you are pregnant, to lymph and blood vessels, to fatty tissue. Breast density is a way to measure how much of your breast is made up of fatty tissue. Dense breasts contain less fatty tissue. Since dense tissue and tumors both appear white on a mammogram, dense breast tissue can make it hard to find tumors or other changes in the breast on a mammogram.

How does breast density affect my breast cancer risk?

In addition to making cancer detection more difficult, breast density also increases your risk of breast cancer. Studies show that having dense breasts can double your risk of getting breast cancer. Ugh.

Who is more likely to get dense breasts besides Black women?

  • Premenopausal women
  • Postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy
  • Women who have a lower BMI
  • Young women

The medical community is not entirely sure Your breast density can change as you age, or as your bodyweight changes.

How do I find out if I have dense breasts?

The only way to truly know if you have dense breasts is through mammography. Some states have laws that say a radiologist/healthcare provider must inform you if you have dense breasts, and some states don’t.  Your best bet? Talk with your healthcare provider and ask them directly if you have dense breasts.

What happens next?

If a radiologist determines that you have dense breasts, talk to your healthcare provider about what screening options are available to you, taking into account other risk factors like family history of breast cancer, personal health history, and lifestyle. Currently, there are no guidelines or recommendations for increased or additional screening for women with dense breasts.

What types of screening are available and when are they used?

  • 2D Mammogram: This is the most common form of mammography. Your personal and family health history will determine when you start screening.
  • 3D Mammogram: This technology is becoming more widely available and proven to be more accurate than 2D mammography.
  • Breast MRI: This can be used in addition to mammography if your provider wants a more accurate reading. This can be utilized for women at elevated risk.
  • Breast Ultrasound: This can be used to look more closely at something suspicious. It can also be helpful in addition to mammography for women with dense or fibrocystic breasts.

Awareness in Action™

Our girls come in all different types of sizes, shapes, and varying densities. Text BRIGHT to 59227 and reply Y, or sign up here, for Bright Pink’s Breast Health Reminders™. We’ll send you regular reminders to check in with your breasts so that you can better define what’s normal for YOU. You are just one text message away from living your #breastlife.

Health Innovation

Her Bright Future

This Women’s History Month, rather than looking back, we’re looking forward to the bright future we all deserve – one in which less lives are lost to breast and ovarian cancer, every young woman is empowered to know her risk and manage her health proactively, and women everywhere can live healthier, happier, longer lives.

Bright Pink is committed to serve as a tenacious champion for women as they journey toward these futures. And we’re proud to be amongst some of today’s most innovative women’s health leaders striving to meet the ever-changing needs of women as they navigate the shifting healthcare landscape.

We’ll feature other wonderful health innovators on our blog, through Instagram giveaways, and as a matching donor to our Facebook Fundraiser.

Together, we’ll secure Her Bright Future


Throughout March, we’ll introduce a wonderful health innovator who is working alongside Bright Pink to create Her Bright Future. First up? We’re teaming up with Modern Fertility: The fertility hormone test you can take at home. Get to know the power-duo behind the company, Afton Vechery & Carly Leahy.

  1. Tell us a bit about Modern Fertility and how your mission empowers women?
    We’re a women’s health company focused on making fertility information more accessible, earlier in life. We take the same fertility hormone tests offered in infertility clinics and make them available before your first (or next) kid. We plan out everything in our lives––our finances, our careers––but when it comes to fertility, we’re still expected to just “wait and see”––and in 2019, that’s just not good enough. Modern Fertility is putting the power of fertility knowledge directly into the hands of women, so they can be their own best advocates when it comes to decisions impacting their bodies and futures.
  2. How did the idea come about to create Modern Fertility?
    Our CEO and cofounder Afton Vechery decided she didn’t want to have kids until later in life, so she set out to better understand her fertility and start planning ahead. The process wasn’t easy: multiple appointments and procedures—plus a $1,500 bill that came in the mail when it was all done. Despite the painful process, she felt empowered by the information she uncovered, which allowed her to understand her body and take control of her roadmap. The experience spawned the idea for Modern Fertility. Afton was inspired to make this process dramatically easier and more accessible so more women could take the reins of their personal health.
  3. What differentiates Modern Fertility from more traditional fertility/ hormone testing?
    Traditional fertility testing takes place in infertility clinics, typically only after you’ve tried to conceive and are having problems. With less than 500 infertility clinics nationwide and costs reaching above $1,500, this traditional process is problematically constrained, not to mention, is designed to be reactive instead of proactive. Modern Fertility is the most comprehensive hormone test that you can take at home––helping women understand reproductive health early so they can make a decision accordingly.
  4. How does Modern Fertility prioritize women’s health? Everything we do is focused on bettering women’s health. Our internal motto is simply, “We trust women.” We believe that women deserve to understand and own their persona health information so they can be their own best health advocate and work with their doctors while staying in the driver’s seat––all to make the decisions that are right for them.
  5. Which #bossbabe inspires you the most? There are so many, but we love Michelle Obama for showing us you can be smart, sexy, motherly, feminine and goofy all in one go. Her memoir, Becoming, is a must-read. Must own.
  6. Your go-to Girl Power pump-up music is _______. When we first started the company we listened to Havana by Camila Cabello a lot. Like––a lot a lot.
  7. Favorite way to self-care and why? We both love to sweat. Our exercise of choice? Biking!
  8. Please describe how you envision Her Brighter Future. What does it look like? What opportunity exists? What equity is achieved? We see a world where fertility testing is as routine as a pap smear. And that’s just the beginning. We’re working toward a future where every woman has access to information about her body that will help her make informed decisions about her life.
Hey Sis

Introducing: Hey, sis

For over a decade, Bright Pink has encouraged all women to take a proactive approach to their breast and ovarian health. Though all people with breasts and ovaries face some cancer risk, these diseases do not affect all women in the same way. Black women are 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, and in 2018, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging recommended that Black women be added to groups considered at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer.

Notoriously left out of the national women’s health conversation, Black women deserve more personalized content to drive behavior change and start to change these odds. Bright Pink is committed to connecting with and engaging this audience with intentionality and purpose in hopes of leveling the playing field related to personalized prevention. As such, we’re launching a campaign this February called “Hey, sis” focused on engaging young Black women in proactive health management. This year-round campaign will feature digital advertising, inspirational social content, storytelling on Bright Pink’s blog, influencer engagement, brand partnerships, and more.

To kick things off, we’ll set the stage by diving a bit deeper into risks Black women face specifically. Throughout the year we’ll share additional content under the “Hey, Sis” umbrella that features personal breast and ovarian health experiences from Black women, personalized health recommendations for the Black community, progress being made to address these barriers, and more. Join us, follow along, and spread the word – because we’re stronger when we all work together in pursuit of the bright future every woman deserves.


Health disparities between Black and white women in the US have existed for decades and were first recognized 30 years ago. Today, even though Black women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are still much more likely to die from the disease than their white counterparts. Black women are 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. That’s a significant increase compared to 1990, when Black women were 17% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.1

Why such a big difference? Overall, Black and white women develop breast cancer at similar rates, however, Black women tend to face much harder diagnoses. For one, they are are more likely to develop breast cancer before the age of 40. They also have higher rates of triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of the disease. Though triple negative breast cancer only represents between 15 and 20 percent of all breast cancers,2 Black women are twice as likely to receive this diagnosis. In addition, women with triple-negative breast cancer are more likely to have a BRCA gene mutation, an inherited mutation3 that increases their risk of breast cancer between 69 and 72 percent in their lifetime and raises their risk for ovarian cancer to between 17 and  44 percent.4

Beyond their biological risk factors, Black women face multiple barriers in accessing prevention and early detection services because our healthcare system fails to provide women with appropriate information, integrate risk assessments into primary care, and provide risk identification and management services at an affordable cost. They have lower screening rates when compared to white women, causing doctors to detect their cancers at a later, more aggressive and life-threatening stage.

The treatment experience is also uniquely challenging for Black women, complicated by their tendency to experience more prominent scars post- surgery, and their potential to develop keloids and hypertrophic scarring in addition to hyperpigmentation. Not to mention, Black women have a complex and deeply personal relationship with their hair.

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At Bright Pink we believe that knowledge is power; that risk awareness can be the catalyst for women to access more frequent screening, pursue genetic testing, and access treatments not routinely recommended to the general population. These actions can greatly improve their chances of preventing cancer or detecting it in its most treatable stage.

We are not so naive as to think that we alone can solve this problem. But, by leaning into our strengths in digital content, innovation, and partnerships with the healthcare industry and beyond, we can certainly play a significant role in the solution. We’ll continue to ensure our resources speak to and meet the unique needs of Black women throughout the country, so that when presented with the opportunity to take control of their health, Black women feel heard, understood, and supported to do so. We’ll pursue new opportunities to welcome Black women into our community, to brighten up on their breast and ovarian health, assess their risk, explore their genetics, partner with their providers, and more.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a healthier life, no matter who they are.

Hey, sis, that includes you!

Fueling our Mission, Personal Stories, We Love

Dear Bright Pink …

Bright Pink’s supporters are paramount in helping us achieve our mission of empowering women to live proactively. Our hearts were filled to the brim when we got a donation from an 11-year-old named Maia. She shared:

 

We’re touched by Maia’s generosity. Follow her lead by making a gift to support our work. Together, we can ensure girls like Maia can be healthy and live on until they, too, are super, super old. 😉  Give Today.

Fueling our Mission

2017 Year In Review


This year, Bright Pink…

  • celebrated our 10th Anniversary,
  • launched our first ever monthly giving program, FundHER,
  • celebrated mom by having a meaningful conversation about health history with #GoAskYourMother,
  • drove thousands of women to schedule their annual well-woman’s exam on #CallYourDoctorDay,
  • taught tens of thousands of women the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to be #OvarianSelfAware,
  • inspired thousands of women to enroll in mobile breast health reminders #LivingMyBreastLife,
  • armed women with the questions to ask their family about health history on Thanksgiving with a #ThanksgivingGamePlan,
  • and partnered with generous supporters and sponsors to make it all possible.

As the year comes to a close, join us in reflecting on all we’ve accomplished since Bright Pink was founded in 2007. To date…

Thank you for your commitment to our work, for your belief in the power of personalized prevention, and for helping shape a brighter future – one in which every woman knows her risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and takes action to manage that risk proactively.

With gratitude,
Katie Thiede, CEO
Katie Thiede, CEO

Remember, if you haven’t yet made your 2017 tax-deductible contribution to support our work, now’s the time! Visit http://BrightPink.org/Donate to give today.

Community

Pink for a Purpose by CME Group

CME Group takes supporting Bright Pink to a whole new level through multi-office activation, department fundraising competitions, educational workshops and more! Through a meaningful corporate donation and creative employee fundraising, they’re on track to make a gift of $160,000 to Bright Pink in 2017 through the annual Pink for a Purpose campaign. We sat down with Kristin Wood, Senior Director, Internal Communications and Community Relations at CME Group, to learn more about this best-in-class corporate partnership.

PS: Your company can make Bright Pink’s mission a part of company culture, too! Learn more about becoming a sponsor today. 

Tell us a bit about CME Group, the Foundation, and your philanthropic priorities?

Giving back to the communities in which our employees and clients live and work is important to CME Group.  We are fortunate that so many of our employees, as well as members of our larger exchange community, share our commitment to give back and support our charitable initiatives.  The CME Group Community Foundation, which focuses on helping with education, children in need, and health and human services is an important part of our philanthropic efforts, and it is through the Foundation that we make our corporate donation to Bright Pink and match donations made by our employees.

Why Bright Pink?

Managing risk is our business, and we appreciate that Bright Pink has made it theirs, too. As the only national non-profit focused on the early detection and prevention of breast and ovarian cancer, Bright Pink is meeting an important need for the at-risk community.  Knowledge is power, and Bright Pink is empowering young women across the country to live proactively at a young age.  That is a cause we are proud to stand behind.

What activities take place at the office or elsewhere during the campaign?

We host kickoff receptions in each of our offices, which is a fun way to celebrate the campaign results from the prior year and get everyone excited to start again.  In addition to our corporate fundraising page, we also have a number of employees with personal connections to the cause who make their own fundraising appeals.  Their efforts have been a big boost to us and also reinforce just how many people’s lives have been affected by breast and ovarian cancer.  While fundraising is important, we also want to educate our employees about the risks associated with these cancers.  We partner with Bright Pink to host Brighten Up Workshops at our offices each year, which have been well attended and received.  For us, it comes down to raising money and awareness.

What has been the most creative department fundraiser? The most successful?

This year, our Corporate Marketing & Communications Division is hosting a “Pink Pong Tournament”, which is a clever spin on our pink for a purpose theme to raise money for the cause.  Our Legal Department has been a phenomenal supporter of the campaign, sponsoring a bake sale for the past two years that has raised more than $6,000. The effort has even gone global, with our Bangalore office sponsoring a fair to celebrate the Diwali holiday with all proceeds benefiting Bright Pink. These are just a few examples of the enthusiasm the campaign has generated among our team.

How has this partnership impacted CME Group employees personally?

One of the most meaningful aspects of our campaign is a “Share Your Story” feature on our company intranet.  We’ve had a number of employees open up about what the fight against breast and ovarian cancer means to them personally.  Across our fundraising pages, you see messages being added to donations to honor colleagues, friends and family members who have suffered from breast and ovarian cancer.  This cause really hits home for our employees, which makes it even more of a priority for us.

What advice do you have for others organizing corporate philanthropy?

First, you have to pick a cause that you believe in and that you know will resonate with your community.  Then you have to find the right partner.  Bright Pink has been amazing to work with and really responsive to our needs.  But above all else, you have to be creative and give everyone a chance to get involved, whether that’s through fundraising or donating, or even just becoming more informed about the cause and why it matters.

Become a Bright Pink Sponsor

Community

Announcing Our Brighten Up College Tour!

              aerie logo

Bright Pink and Zeta Tau Alpha are hitting the road to Brighten Up college campuses across the country by educating and empowering students to be proactive about their breast and ovarian health! Workshops will be proudly hosted by the school’s local Zeta Tau Alpha chapter. Aerie is also joining us for the ride to lead a wellness activity & provide fun freebies for all attendees. We invite students to join us for this interactive health experience on their very own campus. Attendees will walk away with life-saving knowledge to practice wellness and prevention.

See below for a list of campuses we’re visiting this fall. We hope to see you there!

Virginia Tech – COMPLETE!
September 19, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
Squires Student Center
Commonwealth Ballroom
290 College Ave., Room 225
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Baylor University – COMPLETE!
October 9, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
Fountain Mall
1325 S. 5th Street
Waco, TX 76706

University of Maryland – COMPLETE!
October 11, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
Adele H. Stamp Student Union
Grand Ballroom, Room 1206
3972 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742

University of Washington – RESCHEDULED
TBD

College of Charleston
TBD

P.S. – Want to bring a Brighten Up to YOUR college campus? Request a workshop here

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