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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!

Carrie's family
Personal Stories

“My mother’s strength inspired me to face my fears”

On January 29th, 2007, my mom sat my brother and I down and gave us some news that would change all of our lives. She had breast cancer. She said everything was going to be okay, it wasn’t going to be a big deal, and she wasn’t even going to lose her hair.

Then her doctors found more cancer. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer which had spread from both breasts to her lymphatic system. After a fierce, courageous, and exhausting battle with chemo and radiation, the removal of her breasts and ovaries, and finally reconstructive surgery, my mother is incredibly blessed to be cancer free, a fate that not many stage 4 patients achieve.

Even after dealing with everything she did, my mom is still incredibly full of life. She is loving, considerate, and loves to be around family and friends, whether it be getting together for a holiday or just to watch the latest season of The Bachelor.

After my mom reached 5 years cancer-free, I was under the impression that the impact that cancer had on my life would finally be a thing of the past. This was until I went to my school’s health center freshman year of college and the doctor asked about my mom’s cancer, specifically whether she had a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

It was in that moment that the doctor hijacked a conversation that my mom had been preparing to have with me for 5 years.

As it turned out, my mom did test positive for genes that are correlated with breast cancer, meaning that I also may have these same genes. It has taken me quite a while to process this information and what it could mean about my lifestyle and my health. For years, I’ve been too scared to do genetic testing. The initial fear came from the shock of learning that my mom had the gene.

I have grappled with the idea of genetic testing for a while and have now decided that I am ready to accept the results, regardless of what they are.

This summer I set a goal: I would run the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon to show myself that I can live the healthy lifestyle that I would need if I found out I have the genetic predisposition (but even if I don’t, it’s always good to be healthy!) Once I complete the marathon, I will do the testing.

I have wanted to run the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon ever since my senior year of high school. It has always been an influential part of my upbringing, whether it be by cheering on my father while he ran when I was a kid, or volunteering as a high school student giving water to the thousands of runners who passed in front of me. After four years of volunteering at the race, I decided that it’s finally time to run the race myself.

I knew I wanted to run for charity and the first organization I looked at was Bright Pink. I immediately knew it was the one for me, not only because of my family’s experience with breast cancer, but because Bright Pink’s mission is so aligned with my own beliefs and experience.

I want to empower young women by sharing my story and my journey while preparing for the marathon and show the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and being proactive to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.

To be honest, I’ve been afraid of getting genetic testing done since my mom’s diagnosis. But her strength has inspired me to take the necessary steps to be proactive about my health. Running a marathon won’t be easy, but I know that once I’ve finished it, I’ll feel strong enough to take on whatever comes next.

 

 

Carrie was inspired to change her lifestyle and learn more about her genetics because of her mother’s cancer diagnosis and genetic predisposition. This Mother’s Day, #GoAskYourMother about your family health history and learn more about genetics at ExploreYourGenetics.org.

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