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Risk Reduction

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

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.

Lauren Herzog and her mom
Early Detection, Personal Stories

Ovarian Cancer Whispers, So Listen

Play an active role in managing your ovarian health. Learn how you can be #OvarianSelfAware!

My mom’s first symptoms were back pain and heartburn. Her doctor told her to take some antacids and that was that. It wasn’t until a bit later that she started having to go to the restroom more frequently. Then abdominal pain woke her in the middle of the night, three nights in a row. While her first symptoms didn’t seem to signal anything serious, it was the sleep-disrupting abdominal pain that ultimately made her take notice and visit the doctor.

“I think mothers are those rare people who will listen to you talk about seemingly nothing for hours. At least, mine is! She’s really supportive, and I think we have more of a friendship now that I’m older.”

My mom and I had both had prior gynecologic surgeries. Unfortunately, they’re a little too commonplace in our family. So when she underwent surgery in 2011, I didn’t think much of it, but the doctors immediately knew it was ovarian cancer. Waiting after her operation to hear just how far the cancer had advanced was agonizing. When we finally got results, we learned she had Stage 1 ovarian cancer. Reflecting on this moment today, I realize how little I knew about cancer at the time – I didn’t even know there were different stages! And in my mom’s case, the stage her cancer was detected was key. In fact, it is likely what saved her life.

“It’s unusual for ovarian cancer to be detected that early. It’s kind of like what they always say about ovarian cancer… it whispers, so listen.”

Lauren and her mom in front of a Christmas tree

I was 11 years old when my grandmother passed away. But it wasn’t until after my mom’s diagnosis that I learned that my grandmother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer just three weeks prior to her death.

I began to connect the dots about what my strong family history of ovarian cancer meant for me and my health.

 “I know that I fall within the ‘increased risk’ category, but my risk feels even higher to me sometimes.”

This information, on top of my own history of gynecologic issues, led me to make some very important changes to my health and wellness.

I began by making changes to my lifestyle to reduce my risk. I changed my diet and became a vegetarian. It was a personal choice that has really helped me learn different healthy ways of cooking. I also make sure to stay on top of my workouts. In addition to eating healthy and working out, I monitor my gynecologic health with two ultrasounds a year, and while these aren’t to screen for ovarian cancer, it makes me comfortable knowing how closely my gynecologic health is being watched.

And finally, I surround myself with other young women who are advocating for their health through Bright Pink! Bright Pink is an organization that’s tackling the issues that are so often at the forefront of my mind. I’ve had a doctor say to me “You’re too young to have ovarian cancer, so we’ll rule that out,” despite knowing my family history! My mom has met many young ovarian cancer survivors; young women need this information, too!

“It was a breath of fresh air to find Bright Pink.”

This summer I graduated from Bright Pink University (BPU). The other ambassadors and I all had different motivations for going through training, and the diversity of experiences helped me grow. I’m really excited to get out into my local community to give Brighten Up presentations and start these conversations!

Lauren Herzog Bright Pink education ambassador

There are so many misconceptions about ovarian cancer and most women don’t know much about it. But it’s my own experiences with gynecologic issues that have made a strong impression on me. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be really vague and hard to explain. In general, I’ve learned to be an advocate for myself and get a second opinion when the first one didn’t give me the answers I needed. It’s so important to push when you know something isn’t right, it can make all the difference – that’s what I want other young women to know!

Take control of your ovarian health like Lauren and be #OvarianSelfAware at BrightPink.org/OvarianSelfAware

Power Boobies pin
We Love

Using Art for Empowerment: The Power Boobies Story

Hyewon Grigoni created Power Boobies to support her cousin, Mary, during her journey with breast cancer. Now she’s donating a portion of the proceeds to Bright Pink in an effort to educate women across the United States to be proactive about their breast and ovarian health. Check out her Power Boobies enamel pins here and here.

I’ve always made stuff. I think most artists say that. I paint and draw and sew, and sometimes, I get to make stuff for companies and individuals. I know it’s a privilege to be able to live as an artist. The older I get, the less seriously I take myself, the more I love my own work. As a kid I loved Vincent Van Gogh and Marc Chagall. In college I loved Lucian Freud. For the last ten years or so Maira Kalman has been my favorite artist.

My cousin-in-law Mary is amazing. She is super talented, super loving, and also super funny. She is someone I look up to so hard I have to crane my neck. That kind of person. And then, Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I loved her the first time we met. I knew I’d scored in the in-law department. She’s the kind of person who brightens anything she’s a part of. A room, a conversation, a life. She’s genuine, she’s hilarious, you can’t meet this woman and not love her. That’s why it was frustrating not knowing how to support her.

She lives on the other side of the country, but I wanted to do something supportive for her in a tangible way.

I started looking for something to send her in the mail and couldn’t find anything that made sense, so eventually I just started sketching out ideas for the kind of thing I wanted to send her. I wanted to make her something that gave her a sense of empowerment, to encourage her daily; “you’ve got this!” but also something that was a little funny, to give her something light and silly to counter the darkness. It’s going to be a few years before a full recovery is achieved, so I wanted to make something that would last, that she could just have with her at all times, even if it meant just keeping it in her pocket like a secret superhero power kind of thing.

Power Boobies pin on sleeve.

One day I was visiting my mom when I sketched out what would become Power Boobies. My mom is a cancer survivor too, and thought it was a little nutty, but I knew I had made exactly the thing that I wanted to give to Mary.

The process took a while – I’d never designed an enamel pin in my life. I designed it by hand at first, then worked it up on my computer to be able to send the design to a company who could manufacture it. Since I’ve never had someone else actually make something I designed, it was important to me to have it made in the U.S. So I started calling pin shops. But all the companies I called had a minimum order of 75-200. That was a bit unexpected. But I’d set out to make this thing for Mary so I just went ahead and had them made.

I couldn’t wait to send it to Mary. I knew she’d either love it or hate it, and thankfully she loved it. I asked her what she thought if I put some pins on my Etsy site and she said to go for it. I was surprised when people started buying the pins and more so when they opened up to tell me their stories.

It is a huge honor to play even the tiniest part in someone’s life journey in this way. 

It wasn’t my intention to make a product to sell when I made Power Boobies. So once they started taking off, I wanted to find an organization with a tangible impact on women’s health. I found that in Bright Pink and wanted to partner with them through Power Boobies.

Women have worn the Power Boobies for themselves as supporters, fighters and survivors. Men and women have bought them for their loved ones who have just recently been given a diagnosis. Last week a woman bought them as party favors for her “Tata Titties” party before a risk-reducing double mastectomy.

I am so grateful to be able to spread a little bit of joy and encouragement to other women in their fight against breast and ovarian cancer.

I know that in many ways, I could have been a better friend and supporter to Mary. But one thing I’ve learned by now is how important it is to be genuine. To show up and show love as genuinely as you can – and as much as they need or don’t need. Don’t be afraid to connect with someone whose situation you might not fully understand. And also offer specific help: something as simple as bringing dinner and a stack of books, cleaning the bathroom, or walking their dog can mean so much. There are infinite ways to show love and encouragement.

Power Boobies enamel pin

Power Boobies started as something small and very personal between my cousin-in-law Mary and I, but it has turned into so much more than that for so many people. I am honored and humbled to be helping women, both by providing comfort and encouragement through the pins, but also by supporting Bright Pink with the proceeds.

 

If you’d like to use your passion or talents to fundraise for Bright Pink like Hyewon, check out VIPink for more information. Get your Power Boobies enamel pin here and here for $10. 

 

 

Risk-Reduction Lifestyle, Video

What I Ate In A Day (to reduce my risk of breast & ovarian cancer)

 

What I Ate In A Day (to reduce my risk of breast & ovarian cancer) from Bright Pink on Vimeo.

Who knew that reducing your risk for breast and ovarian cancer could be so delicious? Bright Pink team member Cavya does, and she’s sharing her mouth-watering recipes below!

Bright Pink Smoothie Bowl

This super tasty smoothie bowl is a breeze to whip together and will probably make your Instagram dreams come true. And if that’s not enough to sell you, nutrient-packed ingredients like berries, tropical fruit, and flax seeds can help you lower your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. What more could you want?

Ingredients

  • Smoothie
    • ½ cup frozen strawberries
    • ¼ cup frozen raspberries
    • ½ cup greek yogurt
    • ½ cup almond milk
  • Toppings
    • ½ cup mango chunks
    • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
    • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
    • ¼ cup raspberries

Directions:

Blend together frozen berries, greek yogurt and almond milk into a thick smoothie. Pour into a bowl and top with the remaining ingredients. Feel like a goddess of health and wellness.

Vegan Lentil Curry with Brown Rice

This quick and simple curry packs in tons of protein and flavor and is the perfect go-to for #MeatlessMondays. Consuming high amounts of red meat has been proven to increase your risk of breast cancer, so cutting down whenever possible is always a great idea. Plus, a ton of these ingredients are on our cancer fighting grocery list

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of fresh, minced ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, diced with seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chili pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp whole or ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown rice

Directions:

Cook brown rice according to package directions. In a medium saucepan, saute onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeño in olive oil until soft. Add in spices (mustard seeds, dried chili, turmeric, cumin and curry powder) and let them toast for about 30 seconds. Add in diced tomato, coconut milk, water, salt, pepper and lentils, simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and fully cooked. Add in baby spinach and stir. Serve over brown rice garnished with cilantro, a lime wedge, and a side of your favorite veggie.

We know you’ll love these delicious, risk-reducing recipes. If you try them out, make sure to post your finished product on Instagram and tag @BeBrightPink so we can ❤️️  your pic!

Personal Stories

Jenny’s Story

My first experience with breast cancer was when my mom was diagnosed when I was eight. She had stage 3, triple negative breast cancer which was a rare kind.

She went through surgeries to remove the tumors and the cancer would go away but a few months later it would come back. It eventually spread to her lungs, bones and lymph nodes. It kept going like a cycle; the cancer would be removed and we’d celebrate, then it would come back, then removed again, then back.

For 3 years, I watched my mom deteriorate and get weaker and weaker. When I was 11 years old, my mom died.

I’ve always been determined to not let the cancer win which is why I always try to use my mom’s death to make me stronger. I am in college now and am hoping to go on to medical school and become a doctor and help women.

I am also aware that I have a higher risk for breast cancer which makes me more aware of my health and checking myself monthly for any lumps or other symptoms. I hope people can be inspired by my story and know that they can use the bad things that happen in their lives as inspiration to go on and be stronger.


This Mother’s Day, start a conversation about your family health history. Because understanding how your family history affects your health is one of the most important and impact things you can do for yourself. BrightPink.org/FamilyHistory

Early Detection, Risk-Reduction Lifestyle

Be the Change: 5 ways to champion women’s health

All women deserve the knowledge and tools to be powerful advocates for their breast and ovarian health. Set an example and be a champion of change for the women in your life. Because, well, Sandra Bullock said it best: “The most beautiful woman in the world is the one who protects and supports other women.”

  1. Be the teacher: You have the power to impact the way women think about their health. Make today the day you start a meaningful conversation about the importance of living proactively. Need help starting the conversation? These quick tips for breast and ovarian cancer risk reduction are a great place to start.
  2. Set a good example: Adopting healthy habits like eating well, limiting alcohol consumption and exercising regularly, might just inspire the women around you to do the same.
  3. Be an advocate: Women’s health issues need to be talked about. Stay informed and be part of the conversation. Want to do even more? Bring Bright Pink’s free Brighten Up® Educational Workshop to your community and help spark a life-saving conversation.
  4. Make healthy fun: Invite friends on weekly walks, create a monthly “healthy dinner club,” or go outside of your comfort zone and sign up for a mud run obstacle course together! Who says being healthy can’t be fun?
  5. Send 5 friends a link to AssessYourRisk.org: Encourage the women in your life to take action and assess their risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Because knowledge really is power.
Early Detection, Risk-Reduction Lifestyle

New Year, Brighter You! 8 Ways to Jump-start an Incredible 2018

 

Less fast food, more mindfulness, less clutter, more exercise…start the year on a bright note and give these healthy habits the consideration your body deserves.

Commit to Personalized Prevention: Prevention isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your health plan should be personalized to your unique self! Your personal and family health history, your genetic makeup, your lifestyle choices. So start by establishing your breast and ovarian health baseline at AssessYourRisk.org. Your results will give you personalized recommendations for healthy living and breast and ovarian cancer risk management. ALREADY DONE IT? DO IT AGAIN! Your risk should be re-evaluated annually. Things change, and when they do, your prevention plan should too!

Cut back on the cocktails: Research shows a 10% increase in breast cancer risk for every 10g of alcohol — that’s one standard drink — consumed on average each day. Try swapping that next vodka soda for a healthier alternative. Holidays are over people!

Visit your Doc, even when you feel healthy. A well-visit can do you good! Schedule your 2018 appointment(s) to discuss your AssessYourRisk results, keep up with routine screening, explore hereditary cancer genetic testing, and more.

Get moving: 30 minutes of exercise on most days may reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 10–20%. Not to mention it’s a great stress reliever. Make 2016 the year you go to that yoga class you’ve been avoiding.

Know your body, know your normal: You know your body better than anyone. Make 2018 the year you really focus on you. When you know your normal, you’ll be equipped to notice any concerning changes, should they arise. That matters.

Eat well, live well: Research shows a modest decrease in invasive breast cancer in women with a low-fat diet. Of course there will be splurge days (we’re only human!), but it’s all about moderation. Always keep fresh fruit on hand, that way you’re never too far from an easy, healthy snack.

un-BFF the burger: Research shows a 12% increase in breast cancer risk for every 50g of red meat consumed on average each day. Turkey burger, anyone?

Sign up for regular health reminders: When life gets busy, it’s far too easy to put your health on the back burner. That’s why we’re here to remind you when and how to give your health the attention it deserves. Sign up here and we’ll be in touch with ways you can take action to live a healthier, happier, longer life. Remember, no one has a greater responsibility to care for your health than you!

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