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Chicago Marathon

Personal Stories

2 Major Marathons. 1 Pink Beard.

You too can run with Team Bright Pink. 2018 Bank of American Chicago Marathon registration is now open

This is why Tim runs.

This weekend, my pink beard and I will conquer the Chicago Marathon and, in just a few weeks, we’ll take on the famous New York City Marathon. Together, that’s 52.4375 miles.

Less than .17% of the U.S. population runs a marathon each year. And an even smaller group runs two. When people ask me, ‘why?’ I ask, ‘why not?’

I’ve watched too many women lose their lives to breast and ovarian cancer. Three of my wife’s aunts were diagnosed with these diseases at a young age and two passed away as a result. As a husband and father, I can’t help but want to shield other families from ever experiencing this pain.

Cue the pink beard.

As it turns out, BRCA gene mutations run in my wife’s family. And, while she doesn’t have a gene mutation, her sister does, giving her an up to 87% chance of developing breast cancer and an up to 54% chance of developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime. Burying our heads is not the answer.

The answer lies in taking action and living proactively. And when it comes to early detection and prevention, no one does it better than Bright Pink. When my sister-in-law underwent a risk-reducing mastectomy and oophorectomy, Bright Pink provided my family with unmatched resources and support.

So when I decided to run, Team Bright Pink was the obvious choice. I am proud to run in the name of prevention and early detection because those very things are the reason my sister-in-law is healthy today.

And this year, my wife, Laura joined me and tackled her first half-marathon as a member of Team Bright Pink.

If my small act of dyeing my beard and fundraising for Bright Pink can help ensure a brighter future for my family, every mile is well worth it.

For them, no distance is too far.

This is how I make a difference. For my family. For your family. For a brighter future.

Tim has completed 6 marathons for Bright Pink and raised over $30,000. Look for the dude with the pink beard and, while you’re at it, contribute to his New York Marathon fundraising efforts here.

Gina and Melissa
Personal Stories

“My sister was always there to help me, but now I had to be strong for her”

My sister, Melissa, is my best friend. I’ve always looked up to her and followed in her footsteps. As the oldest of four (we have two little brothers), she would always be bossing us around at home. I was like her little sidekick who would do whatever she wanted, no matter what. She always let me tag along with her friends and in high school I was always known as “Melissa’s little sister,” not Gina. Growing up, we were inseparable and would say to each other, “what do other girls without sisters do all day?”

On September 2nd, 2016, Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 31 and had discovered a lump while breastfeeding.

“The doctor told her it was probably nothing, but she had a gut feeling and went back a couple of weeks later to do more testing.”

Melissa decided to advocate for her health, and she found out that she had 100% estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. When Melissa noticed the lump in her breast, we all told her it was nothing. She was persistent that something wasn’t right, but even when we were waiting on the results I didn’t think it was going to be cancer. So when she was diagnosed, we were all in a state of shock and disbelief.

“I always heard about this happening to other people, and older women. Not my family. Not my sister. Not someone who is only 31 years old.”

Melissa went for her surgery about two weeks after being diagnosed, just 10 days before her son Niko’s first birthday. My mom took off work to go stay with her in New York to help with the baby. We all celebrated his first birthday while she had tubes hanging from her chest. Two days later, we found out that Melissa’s cancer had spread to one of her lymph nodes. It was devastating because we knew this meant that she needed further treatment.

After we got this horrible news, the roles that we played for each other as sisters switched. I was on the phone with her every day on my drive home from work. Building her up, giving her advice.

“She was always there to give me advice and help me, and now I had to be strong for her. I didn’t want her to know how scared I was, too.”

This journey has been so hard for all of us, but the worst part was waiting for the doctor visits. It was not knowing the plan of treatment and the fear of the unknown. She went to several doctors who were suggesting very aggressive chemotherapy treatments. She got several opinions and finally she decided to go with a milder form of chemotherapy.

After watching her endure chemotherapy every two weeks for the past few months, I am excited to say she finished her last treatment in February! We are all so excited to see her chemotherapy coming to an end and are hopeful for the future.

“To anyone who is dealing with something similar, know that this is only a temporary part of your life. Imagine yourself beyond the cancer. You will laugh again. You will get through this. This is not what defines your life.”

Melissa during her final chemotherapy session

Melissa during her final chemotherapy session

Watching my sister go through all of this really made me want to do something more. Something that could help other women and prevent them from going through everything Melissa has. She has been so strong through this long and trying process. That’s what inspired me to take on running my first marathon, and do it on Team Bright Pink.

“To all the young women out there who think that it won’t happen to you: assess your risk. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about your risk. Get checked, be breast self-aware, and let your doctor know if something doesn’t feel right. Don’t wait.”

I was introduced to Bright Pink a few years ago by a friend. After my sister was diagnosed I took advantage of the amazing tools that Bright Pink provides, like, and educated myself as much as I could. This experience really opened my eyes to how many young women are diagnosed with breast cancer. I think it’s so important that Bright Pink is so focused on educating women about breast and ovarian health at a young age. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone else. I am so grateful that I still have my confidant, best friend and partner in crime here with me.

Melissa’s strength inspired Gina to run a marathon and help Bright Pink save women’s lives from breast & ovarian cancer. If there’s someone in your life who inspires you to be strong, visit to find out how you can dedicate your life-saving run in their honor.

Personal Stories

“Running together is our therapy. Now we’re saving lives, too.”

I first heard about Bright Pink in 2007, when my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She mentioned her symptoms to her doctor (urinary changes, extensive bloating and feeling full), and he sent her home with heartburn medication. Sadly, she passed away two years later when she was only 56.

Bright Pink had fallen off my radar in recent years, but I got reacquainted in October 2016 when my cousin was hosting a KEEP Collective event. She knew my passion for breast and ovarian cancer education and invited me to partner with her in an online party where some of the KEEP items would go to benefit Bright Pink. While she showcased the sparkly goods, I used Bright Pink’s educational materials to teach the women in the party about their health.

Reconnecting with Bright Pink last October pushed me to get really familiar with Bright Pink’s education resources, and I was impressed.

Bright Pink is doing a great job putting out ready-to-share, useful resources, and that’s something I wanted to support.

I’m an avid runner, so joining Team Bright Pink for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon seemed like a natural next step!

After I made the decision to take on running and fundraising for Team Bright Pink, I decided to take the challenge one step further, and convince my friends to join me! Luckily, my friends don’t take much convincing! We all met each other through a running group, and running together is our sure-fire way to see each other. It’s our weekly therapy session and our excuse to travel together. I knew Kristin hadn’t done the Chicago Marathon yet, and I told her years ago I’d do it with her. I texted her and Nicole to see what they thought, and, by the end of the day, Renee and Diana had signed up too.

I have incredible friends. Even without having substantial ties to breast or ovarian cancer, or any awareness of Bright Pink, they jumped right in and pledged to fundraise. Just like that!

It isn’t always easy to stay motivated to train for our runs, and to be honest, we don’t do “motivation” very well. We’re great at complaining, whining, cussing and plotting how to get out of the next race. Despite that, we’re all running obsessed and will sign up for another race as soon as someone sends out a text.

I am so thrilled to be taking on this challenge with all my best friends for Bright Pink. I see it as my duty to educate my family and friends about ovarian cancer and listening to their bodies, so everyone has a better chance of an early diagnosis. Running the Chicago Marathon on Team Bright Pink is a way for all of us to spread Bright Pink’s life-saving message to even more women.

Are you inspired by Amy and her amazing friends? Join Team Bright Pink for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, or one of many other races!

Personal Stories

This kind of thing doesn’t happen to someone like me

I was always a very active person. I was either at the gym working out or running my three boys around to their various events. I ate organic fruits and vegetables (LOTS of vegetables) and very little meat. I was also an avid runner, and ran my first marathon in 2015 in Chicago.

Just a few weeks after completing the marathon, my world was turned upside down. On November 19, 2015, I discovered a lump in my breast. I didn’t think much of it and figured it would just go away. A couple of weeks later the lump remained and with the constant nagging of my husband I agreed to go to the doctor.

With my excellent health and lack of family history, no one suspected cancer. After a mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy for a “cyst,” I heard the words I thought I would never hear: “You have cancer.” At first, I thought they must be wrong, that my results had gotten mixed up with someone else’s.

I’m only 36 years old, this kind of thing doesn’t happen to someone like me. I was one of “those people” who believed that just because I did x, y, z, I would never have to deal with any major health issues.

After the initial shock wore off, I made the choice to tackle my diagnosis head on. I completed six rounds of chemotherapy and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Even though I got cancer despite my healthy habits, those same habits helped to keep me strong to fight cancer, and my doctors believed my healthy lifestyle kept my cancer from being worse than it was. I still believe in healthy eating and staying active as a means of prevention, but I now know that genetics play a big part in your health, too. I tested positive for the ATM gene.

I first heard about Bright Pink from a fellow member of my running group, who ran the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon as a charity runner for Bright Pink. When I read about the organization I knew immediately that the next time I ran the Chicago Marathon it would be for Bright Pink. I love that Bright Pink focuses on educating women about how they can be proactive to prevent cancer or detect it early.

I learned a lot about breast cancer this past year, but I wish I had the knowledge that Bright Pink provides earlier.

I decided to run the 2017 Chicago Marathon as a charity runner for Bright Pink because I believe knowledge is power. My goal is to help other women learn about breast cancer prevention and early detection so that one day no woman will ever have to go through what I did.

Join Felicia and help Bright Pink empower women to live proactively by signing up for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Team Bright Pink.

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


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