Close Icon
Browsing Tag

genetic testing

Bright Pink founder, Lindsay Avner with Education Ambassadors Cailtin Lopez and Brittany Whitman
Personal Stories

A Bright Pink Education Ambassador’s Story: Caitlin Lopez

Interested in making a difference in the lives of young women? Become a Bright Pink Education Ambassador or PinkPal today. Read on for Cailtin Lopez’s story.

In my family, the only known case of breast cancer was my maternal grandmother when she was around 50 years old. She had a single mastectomy with no reconstruction and that was it. However, my gynecologist advised that I should consider genetic testing because of my family history of other cancers. My mother was tested first and when she received her results I immediately went in for testing. It was then that I discovered I am BRCA+.

I met with a genetic counselor and we discussed all of my options for prevention and early detection such as surveillance, medications, and surgery. She also introduced me to Bright Pink and suggested their PinkPal program which matches young women who are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer with fellow high-risk individuals. I immediately reached out and received a PinkPal. I was partnered with a wonderful woman who had been in my exact situation. She helped me feel confident, answered all of my questions, and made me feel at ease.  Cailtin Lopez with her Bright Pink T-shirt

After my PinkPal helped me realize that I would be OK, I made a decision and a life plan of what I would do in regards to my BRCA+ status; I went through with surgery. After I recovered, I decided I was ready to support others.  

I received a PinkPal in 2013 and I became a PinkPal in early 2014. It was important for me to provide that comfort for other women that my PinkPal provided for me. It’s nice to know that you have a support group when you’re going through something that affects your life so much.

I wanted to continue my journey of volunteering with Bright Pink so I attended Bright Pink University, a training program for volunteers, in the summer of 2014. There I learned how to present the Brighten Up Educational Workshop, which is a 30-minute presentation that covers the basics of breast and ovarian health, introduces the idea of different lifetime risk levels, and provides early detection and prevention strategies.

Completing Bright Pink University was one of the greatest things I have ever done. Not only has it been beneficial for me, but for others in my family and community as well.

I remember being nervous while waiting to present my first Brighten Up Workshop. It was at St John’s University in Queens. The group was really positive and asked lots of great questions.  I’ll never forget that group – and I have educated new groups at St John’s University every year for the last three years. They always welcome me with open arms.    

Being informed is an important factor in order to be in control of your health.  I am honored and happy to be a part of an organization, like Bright Pink, that helps empower people to be proactive and teach them to take knowledge and turn it into something wonderful.

Caitlin Lopez after presenting a Brighten Up Workshop

While a goal of mine is to educate as many women as possible, I’m a huge fan of smaller groups too, because women (and men) tend to ask more questions, share their stories, and feel more connected. I love the feeling of helping women understand that they have control over their health and can choose to be proactive.  

Empowering women is something I am truly passionate about.

Becoming a Bright Pink ambassador has empowered me and I love the fact that I can help people dig into their family history and question their doctors. I always want to help others, especially women, and Bright Pink helps me accomplish this. My own family health history and personal genetics push me to help others realize that they are in control of their health and they don’t need to be afraid of their genetic testing results. I want everyone to know they can help themselves and their families and choose to be proactive.

 

Caitlin was inspired to volunteer with Bright Pink because of her genetic testing journey and her drive to empower others.  Find out how you can make a difference in the lives of young women. Become a Bright Pink Education Ambassador or PinkPal today.

 

 

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.

X

Join the Bright Pink Movement

Be the first to hear progress updates, inspiring stories, and new ways you can act to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.

BP Loading
Thanks for your patience as we process your information. You'll be redirected shortly.
X

One more step to get signed up for breast and ovarian health updates.

We just need a little information and you'll be all set!

BP Loading
Thanks for your patience as we process your information. You'll be redirected shortly.