When I was crying over frightening mastectomy pictures, wishing I’d never had my genes testing and doubting if I would ever smile or feel normal again, there was still a little voice in my head saying this happened for a reason. I’m not even the kind of person who believes everything happens for a reason but I couldn’t shake that idea, that thought that I would use this to make a difference someday, however small.
Well, my friends, that day is slowly approaching – I hope. I haven’t announced this on the blog yet because I wanted to give it the attention it deserves, but a friend and I are in the process of starting up a Seattle chapter of Bright Pink. Bright Pink is the first cancer-gene-related organization I discovered and was instrumental in my dealing with all of this. I would love to be able to act as a resource and support system for other people going through this – especially here in Seattle.
Starting up a local chapter isn’t quite as easy as saying “Let’s bring Bright Pink to Seattle!” We have numerous steps to take, and once we’ve completed them, the official application process takes place in February.
♦ Find other high-risk women. This is probably one of the hardest to accomplish, only because we don’t have the greatest ideas of how to find them. We’ve found a few and are starting to get our names and contact information out to hereditary cancer centers and genetic counselors in the area. I know I would have loved a referral to other local girls in my situation – I just never asked because I didn’t think there would be any.
♦ Distribute Bright Pink information to medical offices. This is proving to be pretty easy. When you’re part of the BRCA community, you spend a lot of time at various clinics, appointments, and – if you’re me, at least – medical studies, and you start to figure out who’s who.
♦ Find local business to host outreach events. This is mostly just to show community interest; before the chapter exists, they don’t actually need to host anything. However, we’ve come up with some fun ideas so far and really hope we can use them!
♦ Hold a fundraiser. This was the one I was nervous about, but it turns out to be the one I’m having the most fun with. I’ve never done any kind of fundraising before; I didn’t even get into it in elementary school when we could win prizes if we sold enough things. After a little bit of brainstorming, we settled on a raffle at a local bar’s karaoke night later this month. So far we’ve procured donations from about fourteen local businesses and we’re really excited about all of them. I’m a little nervous about how the fundraiser will go, if anyone will be interested and if we’ll make any money, but I’m also really eager to see how well we pull it off. So far, it’s looking good!
There are a few other requirements, but these are the major things we have to accomplish. I love the idea of bringing awareness to women who may be at high risk – after all, most women aren’t educated about their cancer risk and the sooner you know, the sooner you can take steps to fight it. I don’t know if we’ll be approved for a chapter or how it will work out in the end, but I’m loving getting more involved in a positive way – it’s a lot better to feel proactive and like I’m making a difference than to feel stressed and like I’m waiting around for cancer.