In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, all Blush products are 20% off and a portion of the proceeds will go to support The Breasties. The Breasties is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young women affected by breast and reproductive cancers through community and friendship. Their message and mission of supporting each other and "moving mountains together" are right in line with our #WeAreWeCan campaign, and we're thrilled to team up with them!
We chatted with co-founders Allie Brudner, Paige More, Leslie Almiron, and Brianna Majsiak to get the scoop on The Breasties and learn who they are, what they do, why they do it, and how YOU can get involved and help make a difference. Read our Q&A below. We hope you will join us in supporting The Breasties and breast cancer awareness this October!
Tell us about The Breasties and the mission behind the organization?
The Breasties is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that empowers young women affected by breast and reproductive cancers through community and friendship. As an all-inclusive community of previvors, survivors, thrivers and caregivers, The Breasties connect thousands of young women, online and offline, through free wellness retreats, events and meet-ups across the globe.
What was your inspiration for co-founding The Breasties?
The Breasties was born, out of necessity. When all of the co-founders were going through our own journeys surrounding cancer, we found personal comfort in dreaming up a group that made all young women dealing with a high risk or diagnosis feel as if they were not alone.
There are so many organizations that exist that focus on research and medicine, which is so needed, but we each noticed a huge gap out there for support. We all felt a strong need to connect with other women that “get it” - to not feel alone, to feel welcomed, to find a sense of belonging.
In January of 2018, we hosted the very first wellness retreat. We received so much love and support from local businesses that wanted to donate. And when we returned home, we had hundreds of women asking how they could join in on the next retreat. We knew we had to work hard to make this official.
We have since incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization. To date, we have hosted 10 free weekend wellness retreats for over 200 women, our first annual Camp Breastie for nearly 500 women, a Move Mountains Gala and have 30 (and growing) chapters in cities around the world. In 2020, we plan to host our very first international retreat!
Could you share some of your own breast cancer stories with us?
ALLIE: Allie is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 28 years old. With no significant family history for breast cancer, she had to advocate for herself when she found a breast lump and brought it to her doctor’s attention. During her treatment, she knew that she had to channel her energy into helping others—connecting with other strong women in similar situations is what helped push her through the toughest times.
PAIGE: In 2017, Paige opted to have a preventative double mastectomy after discovering she carried the BRCA 1 genetic mutation. After feeling alone during her entire decision making process, Paige decided to start sharing her story on Instagram to give other women the hope that they too could become warriors not worriers.
BRI: Bri lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 6 and grew up constantly worrying about her increased breast cancer risk. She tested positive for a lesser known gene mutation, and is in the process of navigating surgery and making prophylactic decisions.
Could you tell us more about The Breasties' events and why the social interaction you provide is so important?
Our mission and greatest passion is for all women to know that they are not alone. We want to empower women through community and a sense of belonging. There are so many women out there going through the same if not similar experiences, thinking that they are the only young person going through this. We want to show them that not only is there an incredible community online for them, we are also here creating spaces for them to find their tribe and meet their breast friends in person! That in person connection is the first time a lot of women say they feel less alone in what they’re going through, as they are surrounded by others who are / have been in their shoes.
In addition, we try to center most of our events, meet-ups and retreats around wellness activities to show women that they are capable of regaining their strength, and are able to take control of their health in small ways. At each wellness retreat we focus on healing in nature, eating healthy and feeling strong through activities like skiing, snowboarding, meditation, hiking, yoga…. and of course lots and lots of bonding time.
What advice would you offer other women affected by breast cancer, either personally or with a loved one?
- We recommend that ALL women know their risk. Know your body. Check your breasts. Know your family history. Advocate for yourself. You have the right to question your doctors. If something doesn’t feel right - say something. If you are unhappy with a doctor’s advice, speak up.
- Get genetic testing. Genes can be passed down from your father’s side, not just your mother’s. There are also many more genes other than BRCA that put women at a genetic disposition to breast and gynecologic cancers and they are coming to the forefront as well.
- We want women to know that they do not have to be scared of their bodies or their risk of cancer. Knowledge is power - and when you have friends who understand you, support you and may have already gone through it, we believe that helps alleviate some of the fear.
- The Breasties community is here for you. Reach out to us directly, or reach out to other women in the community who are sharing their story and allow them to be here for you.
What's the most important thing all women should know when it comes to breast cancer awareness?
Breast cancer is more than October. Women (and men) are diagnosed all year long. Those affected by cancer go through treatment, have surgery, lose loved ones - all year long.
Although thankful for the awareness that has resulted from October initiatives, it is important to also acknowledge “pinkwashing.” October can often become an explosion of PINK - pink clothes, pink foods, pink EVERYWHERE. Breast cancer is far from pretty and pink - it has affected too many, too young, and unfortunately, continues to do so. Many women in the community share how they feel this disease is being exploited for commercial gain. The pink ribbon has done its job - WE ARE ALL AWARE. So now, let’s take action. Let’s provide support to those affected. Let’s fund research. Let’s make change.
For those of you who choose to contribute - make sure you do your homework. Know where your money goes. Know what you are supporting.
Another thing that many people don’t know is that there are very few organizations that allocate donations to fund metastatic breast cancer research - the only kind of breast cancer that kills. Stage IV needs more.
What's one misconception or falsehood surrounding breast cancer and breast cancer awareness?
There is a misconception that breast and reproductive cancers are diseases for older women. The Breasties community proves that to be false - we are a group of young women, some dealing with cancer diagnoses in our twenties and thirties. Some who are taking preventative measures to decrease their risk of cancer. Some who have lost loved ones to cancer. We are women who are young and active, women who are navigating our careers and figuring out dating and family planning - while at the same time navigating what it means to be a cancer survivor/previvor/thriver/etc.
What's the best way for women to get involved and help support The Breasties and breast cancer awareness?
Spread the word. Come to an event. If you are able to, make a donation. All donations go directly to funding programming for women in the community. Check us out at thebreasties.org or @the_breasties on Instagram. Either way, know we are here, and together we can move mountains!