Written by A Wild Dove | Photographed by Bright Pink
At the age of 23, Lindsay Avner was the youngest person in the US to undergo a preventative double-mastectomy. With an extensive family history of breast and ovarian cancer, and after having watched her own mother’s battle against cancer, she made the dramatic, lifesaving choice to take action in advance. Lindsay’s surgery was covered by The Chicago Tribune and New York Post, and after sharing her story, Lindsay became overwhelmed at the amount of high risk women who reached out. So in 2007, Lindsay started Bright Pink as a resource to help at-risk women understand their choices and provide support. “I wanted to create a space for young women, like me, to connect one-on-one and get information that was fun and friendly, not scary,” she said. We think that’s pretty amazing, and we think she’s pretty amazing, too. To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we sat down with Lindsay and got the scoop on all the work Bright Pink is doing to help women around the world.
Can you describe the mission of Bright Pink?
We are on a mission to help women understand their own risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, and to inform them of strategies they can put in place in their 20s and 30s to be proactive with their breast and ovarian health.
We also support those who are high-risk and are going through difficult times. Finding out you’re at a high risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer or undergoing surgery are very stressful experiences. You can end up feeling very alone. We try to make things a little less daunting and lonely. We want women to feel empowered.
How has breast cancer awareness and the process changed since you had your double mastectomy?
I think by now, it’s pretty safe to say that most people are aware of breast cancer. Now the atmosphere is shifting from awareness to action. We’re trying to get women to understand that yes, you can be at risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer at a young age, but you don’t have to just sit around and wait for this horrible thing to happen. You can be proactive, you can educate yourself and live a healthy life to reduce your risk.
Can you tell us about your education and support programs? A few musts that all young women should do?
Do I have to pick just a few? There are so many. The first thing I would have to mention is our newest digital tool, ExploreYourGenetics.org, which helps people get a better understanding of whether or not they should consider genetic testing, as well as providing resources to finding a genetic testing facility and means of payment.
There’s also our Webby Award-winning risk assessment tool, AssessYourRisk.org. It allows you to get an understanding of your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in a simple and informative way. To date, there have been over 300,000 completions on AssessYourRisk.org, which means so many more people are educating themselves. It’s amazing.
“You can be proactive, educate yourself and live a healthy life to reduce your risk.”
I also have to mention our Brighten Up workshops, which are 30-minute presentations delivered by our certified Bright Pink Education Ambassadors at workplaces, faith-based institutions, community centers and other gathering places. They provide education on the basics of breast and ovarian health, lifetime risk levels, and equip participants with life-saving knowledge. We’ve educated over 11,500 women just this year!
That’s really just scratching the surface of what we offer, too. Check out our website, brightpink.org for more!
Lastly, if you had to be one shade of pink, which would it be and why?
Bright Pink, of course! To me, bright is smart. Bright is happy. Bright is fearless. Bright is empowered. I think everyone should be Bright Pink.