Turn Your Passion Into Support

Do What You Love While Supporting YSC

It’s been an awesome month so far as we honor our many YSC Champions. These incredible individuals take time from their busy lives to help spread awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer. They go above and beyond by hosting DIY fundraisers to help us sustain and expand essential programs. What you may not realize is that many YSC Champions are breast cancer survivors themselves. Some are newly diagnosed, some are figuring out their “new” normal, while others are celebrating cancerversaries. But each champion has one thing in common—they do it out of love and, many times, they do what they love!

Allison Vitsky is one of these incredible YSC Champions. She found a unique way to do exactly what she loves to raise funds for the organization that supported her through the toughest time of her life. Her photo series tells her very special Survivor Story on this week’s YSC Champion Highlight.


Diving Is My Thing

I received my first scuba certification in 1992, just after I had graduated college – a gift from my mom and dad.  Little did they know what this would unleash!  I lived near the ocean most of my life and loved swimming, but scuba diving was not even on my radar. I had no clue how much I would love it, even during the class. The gear was heavy and seemed very constricting, but the moment my head went underwater for the first time, it was like a switch flipped – the world suddenly seemed so big! I think that’s why I love it so much. It reveals a side of the planet that we can’t see from the surface, but is so integral and critically important to all of us. Being underwater is the most peaceful, centering experience I know.



Me during chemo in 2003

The Reality of Breast Cancer

At the time of my breast cancer diagnosis, I was 33 and living in Boston, MA during my postdoctoral fellowship. As I was showering one day, I put my hand on my left breast and felt a mass. I had concurrent feelings of abject terror and scoffing denial (“I’m too young, it’s probably nothing.”) I went to the physician and had to push for the appropriate diagnostics. Within three weeks, I had a breast cancer diagnosis.

I ended up accepting a position at a local company because the student insurance plan I had was tough to navigate. My first day at that job was actually about 9 days after my first chemo treatment. Most of my coworkers actually met me when I was bald–that was a little crazy!

I dealt many of the unique issues young women diagnosed with breast cancer face. A rush to decide whether I wanted kids someday, friends who couldn’t handle my diagnosis and the fact that I was often the youngest person in the oncology waiting room. These issues are so isolating. I was so lucky to find the Young Survival Coalition. I sent them an email


Silly promotion shot for Dive into the Pink.

and within days, I no longer felt so alone. There was a very strong YSC group in Boston and I was embraced by a group of young women who were there to answer questions, support me and keep my spirits up. I will forever be grateful to YSC and that group of young women.


Getting Back to What I Love

I started diving again as soon as I finished chemo and healed from surgery.  I had only dived in warm water up until my diagnosis. But afterwards, I received training to use specialized exposure gear for colder water so I could dive close to home. My goal was for diving to become a weekend activity instead of a vacation-only one! By 2004, I was an avid cold water diver, even when things were very cold–climbing over snow to get to the ocean, thawing out the icicles in my hair, that kind of ridiculous stuff. A few years later, I moved to California, where the water is still cold, but at least I’m not thawing out my hair every time I complete a dive in January!    


Southern California divers (from left to right) Anastasia Laity, Nayan Savla, and Dana Rodda enthusiastically participated in the "pilot" charter in October 2015.

Southern California divers have fun at the 2015 Dive into the Pink.

How It All Started

I was diagnosed in October of 2003, which also happens to be breast cancer awareness month. There’s absolutely no way for me to escape the reminder of my diagnosis. I always felt drawn to what was goings on during this time of year. Breast cancer runs and walks seem to occupy every weekend of the month. But I always feel more drawn to getting on a dive boat, because it’s generally accepted that autumn has the best diving conditions in California. Every weekend in October, I’d guiltily pass groups of pink-clad survivors on my way to boarding a boat and getting underwater.

Last year, tired of feeling guilty, I created a breast cancer dive day. I chartered a local dive boat, packed some pink diving gear and told all my friends that I’d like to see a boat full of pinked-out divers. Voila! Dive into the Pink was born. It was surprisingly easy to plan and execute. The boat spots sold out (18 divers, plus my husband and I) and people were really enthusiastic. The day of the event, divers were posting to social media that received a lot of positive attention. People seemed genuinely excited to be able to dive for a larger purpose. 



Divers at the 2015 Dive Into The Pink!

What’s Next For Dive into the Pink

This year has been a whirlwind since Dive Into the Pink started. We initially had two dive charters planned for Fall 2016, but they sold out so rapidly that we had to add a third. We’ve worked with a few dive gear companies to create special “swag” for all participants. We also coordinated with excellent charter operations to make sure each dive is uncrowded and personalized. 

Beyond our organized dives, we worked with Prawno Apparel, an amazing company, to create a fantastic limited-edition t-shirt. We’ve also been approached by other companies for dive travel and gear as well as fitness consultants, jewelry and others offering swag donations. Some larger donations were are featured on an online auction that will open on October 1.



Doing what I love!

Next year may be even more exciting! You’ll have to stay tuned for that, though. I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it weren’t for Young Survival Coalition. Dive into the Pink wouldn’t be able to plan events without the incredibly generous and truly caring support from the dive community as a whole. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to continue harnessing that support as Dive into the Pink grows so that young breast cancer patients know they are not alone!


Easy ways you can turn your passion into support

Thank you Allison, for turning your passion into an incredible event to help spread awareness of the critical issues unique to young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to Dive into the Pink, YSC is able to reach more young survivors and provide them with support and empowerment.

It just goes to show that anyone can create a DIY fundraiser and have an awesome time while doing it! Some of the best fundraisers are those that focus on the activities you love to do anyway. Whether you love to run, bike, walk, hike, play baseball, softball, basketball, football or soccer, dance, sing or dive–you really can create a unique event that combines your passion with a way to generate essential funds for YSC.

Become a YSC Champion today. Help us spread awareness and raise money to support more young survivors and women living with metastatic breast cancer.

Learn more about YSC Champions!





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The Trip of a Lifetime

A little under a year ago I won the trip of a lifetime.

On a last minute whim, I decided to enter the 2015 We Can Survive concert sweepstakes. When I first received the call to notify me that I’d won, I was a little skeptical that this was a legit call! At the time, I didn’t realize that by answering the call I’d be embarking on an unforgettable trip.

Everyone at YSC was wonderful and very helpful as we planned the trip, even helping me to arrange travel plans so I didn’t have to miss work. The next question was who should I bring? That one was easy — my wonderful husband, my Co-Survivor throughout my two cancer journeys.


Can't believe we won the We Can Survive Concert Sweepstakes!

Can’t believe we won the We Can Survive Concert Sweepstakes!

Headed West

Together, we flew into Los Angeles on that Saturday morning to begin our adventure. We didn’t rent a car in Los Angeles and did fine using public transportation. LAX FlyAway helped us get to Hollywood, where we were staying. Our hotel was in the middle of it all! After we checked-in, we decided to explore Hollywood Boulevard and enjoy the California sun.

Since our hotel was walking distance to the Hollywood Bowl, we were able to meet up with everyone from YSC and walk to the concert together. The concert was amazing! We were VIP guests, so we hung out in a special VIP area enjoying drinks and food before the concert. The lineup was amazing — The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Maroon 5, Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas. The show opened and it was as good as expected, but they kept hinting at a surprise guest.  At the end of the show, we were treated to a surprise performance by Rihanna!


Wishing Miranda and Abigail were with us!



Sunday all to ourselves.

It has always been a dream of mine to step into the Pacific Ocean, so we went to Santa Monica. We ate lunch on the Santa Monica pier while exploring the area. After that, we walked along the beach stepping foot in the Pacific Ocean. Even though our daughters weren’t able to come with us, we decided to write their names in the sand which looked out at the ocean. My husband and I then walked along the coast all the way to Venice Beach enjoying the ocean and views.



Thank you Young Survival Coalition!

Headed home.

Before long, it was time to go home. After a weekend in Hollywood, it was time to head back home with the wonderful memories of a trip of a lifetime. Thank you Young Survival Coalition!










Enter to win your own Trip of a Lifetime!

The We Can Survive Concert sweepstakes is offering two free concert tickets, round-trip airfare and hotel for a young breast cancer survivor and her guest.

The sweepstakes is open to all young women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger until 11:59PM EDT on Friday, September 30 – so don’t delay, ENTER TODAY!

This year’s lineup is truly amazing, featuring Bruno Mars as well as performances by Ariana Grande, Charlie Puth, G-Eazy, Meghan Trainor, OneRepublic and Pitbull! 








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RISE To Advocate For Young Women Facing Breast Cancer

RISE: Respected Influences through Science and Education

It’s been nearly a year since we launched our exciting breast cancer advocacy training program: RISE. We selected 10 incredible RISE Advocates who spent the last year learning about the science of breast cancer and how to advocate for others like them who have been impacted by this disease. We’re now accepting applications for this exciting and competitive program and looking to recruit up to ten new RISE trainees for the 2017 Class.

The program covers travel costs and related expenses for RISE Advocates as they attend training or are asked to attend events and conferences to represent YSC. The three required training/conferences which must be completed over the two years of training include the NBCC Summit (May 20-23, 2017), Project LEAD (typically in July, dates not yet set) and the Alamo Scholar program at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (December 4-9, 2017). In 2017, the new class of RISE advocates will be required to attend the YSC Summit (March 10-12, 2017) for in-person training.


RISE Advocates at Project LEAD 2016

I reached out to a few of our current RISE Advocates to learn of their experiences and how this training program has positively impacted their lives.


Diane Massaglia

dmassagliaPrior to becoming a RISE Advocate, I had read scientific journals and learned a fair amount of the language of breast cancer. But I never understood the HOW and WHY. Project LEAD gave me a great foundation in the science and biology of breast cancer. While at Project LEAD, I also had the opportunity to network with other advocates and interact with a group of highly esteemed doctors and researchers. For me the highlight of the week was the small group discussions with researchers, where we got to sit with researchers in an informal setting and learn about their current research work and ask lots of questions. I found the immunology presentations very interesting and all of the research and trials continues to give me hope that we will find a cure. I look forward to putting the knowledge I gained to good use as a RISE Advocate.

Rebecca Seago-Coyle

rseago-coyleA common question my friends ask me is what is breast cancer advocacy and why do I participate. First, I’m really passionate about breast cancer research. I remember sitting there waiting for the doctors to come in 6 years ago to tell me my fate and being so afraid. I don’t wish that fear on anyone so now I try to make a difference in the way that I know how. As Project Manager, I use my professional skills to build relationships and ask the right questions regarding researcher’s projects when I’m asked to sit at the table. For me, that’s advocacy. Advocacy is working not only with researchers but other advocates. We all have so much to learn and sharing the knowledge will only empower us all.  

Being a YSC RISE Advocate, I had the privilege to attend both the NBCC Summit and Project LEAD. Both of these events were electrifying as I was surrounded by like-minded people, all of whom wanted to end breast cancer. I also never knew that cancer could be so political. The information I learned at the NBCC Summit has enabled me to reach out to my friends and family and share how they can make a difference by reaching out to their state representatives. Project LEAD gave me the science background that I needed to understand whether or not what the researchers are proposing is relevant and doable.  

For me, I know that I can’t cure cancer myself, but I can be part of the solution. I’m excited to work with YSC and other advocates to keep educating myself and sharing my experiences so that we can all be part of the solution…to end breast cancer.


Michele Hille

mhilleI wanted to be a YSC RISE Advocate to springboard my advocacy efforts above and beyond supporting amazing women through their breast cancer journey. Halfway through the first year with RISE I can honestly say I’m well on the way.

My first task was to attend Project LEAD and what a week it was!!! Project LEAD elevated my understanding of the science, policy, and key advocacy efforts in the breast cancer world. I came away from LEAD meeting amazing survivors and advocates, an incredible understanding of all scientific aspects of breast cancer, and, most importantly, the first draft of an action plan to take my advocacy efforts to a new level. Knowledge is power and there is nothing more powerful than an army of knowledgeable breast cancer survivors!!! I’m thrilled that RISE enabled me to attend these conferences and I’m very much looking forward to working on advancing the mission of YSC and young breast cancer survivors.


Dana Stewart

dstewartLike many cancer survivors, much of the fear and anxiety around cancer stems from the wonders of whether or not it will come back, why it happened in the first place and will that same thing trigger cancer again. It’s been hard for me to work through these fears and I believe a lot of the reason behind that is I simply didn’t understand cancer. So, when the opportunity to go to Project LEAD was offered to me, I couldn’t pass it up. During my week at Project LEAD, I learned the ins and outs of cancer; specifically the how and why.  

I am still not an expert on cancer by any means, but now I can say I understand the basic components of cancer along with an increased understanding of how it is being fought. Project LEAD not only has helped me strengthen my abilities as a patient advocate, but it has also strengthened my ability to fight the cancer fears and anxiety that tends to hover around my mind.



Join the 2017 Class of RISE Advocates

If you’re seriously interested in becoming a breast cancer advocate and want to better understand the science of breast cancer, now is your chance to apply to join the next class of RISE Advocates!

Through RISE, you’ll become an elite volunteer advocate and receive training in all aspects of breast cancer, including science, research, advocacy and policy. Once trained as a RISE Advocate, you’ll be qualified to speak intelligently and credibly on behalf of YSC and other young survivors.

RISE is open to any interested breast cancer survivor, however, preference will be given to women initially diagnosed with breast cancer under age 40 and to women who have already established connections to YSC. Applicants must reside in the United States or Canada.

RISE applicants are selected through a very competitive application process and must commit to two years of in-person and online training as well as one year of service. In total, it is a three-year commitment.

Learn more or start your application today.
Applications are due by Monday, October 31, 2016,
so start today to have the time to thoroughly complete the process. 

2016 NBCC Summit: From left to right, Medha Sutliff YSC’s Sr. Regional Field Manager (Midwest), RISE Advocates Laura D’Alessandro, Tracy Leduc, Jen Linares and Rebecca Seago-Coyle, and Michelle Esser YSC’s Sr. Program Manager for Research & Advocacy.




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Lisa Marie, Our Belle of the Ball

How it all started

Lise and Lisa

Lise and Lisa Marie Muccilo

My husband, Mike, and I planned and hosted the first Butterfly Ball in October 2013 to celebrate his sister Lisa Marie’s 10th anniversary of her passing. To honor her memory we created the Lisa Marie Muccilo Foundation and donated the $25,000 raised during our first Butterfly Ball to Young Survival Coalition.

Lisa Marie was diagnosed at 27 years old with aggressive breast cancer. She started working with YSC, helping many young women get through their diagnosis and treatment while facing breast cancer herself.  She became a Young Survival Coalition Board Member, Outreach and Education Committee Co-Chair and founded the YSC of New Jersey, which was an affiliate office at the time.  

Lisa Marie was a beautiful, loving and compassionate person who was taken from us much too soon on August 18, 2003 at 33 years old. Her passion to help young women with breast cancer inspired us to create the Butterfly Ball and is our way of honoring her while supporting YSC.

Michael, Lise, Dominick and James Muccilo at first Butterfly Ball in 2013 in honor of Lisa Marie Muccilo.

Michael, Lise, Dominick and James Muccilo at first Butterfly Ball in 2013 in honor of Lisa Marie Muccilo.

From Start to Finish – How to Host a Ball

Believe it or not, Mike and I did most of the work for the first Butterfly Ball. We still plan much of it ourselves and have expanded the event in the last three years. We certainly believe anyone can plan an event like the Butterfly Ball. Here’s some advice if you want to plan a big party, whether it’s to honor someone, celebrate a cancerversary or just have fun while supporting YSC:

Explore your connections.

 – Our first Save the Date and invitation were designed by an awesome local YSC volunteer. This year, Mike had a colleague design the Save the Date postcard and invitation, which we had printed through another connection we had.

 – A friend’s band performs and provides the entertainment at the ball.

Host the event in a place you’re familiar with.

 – We held the event at the North Jersey Country Club, which we were members of. This made the planning much easier for us.

Ask for help and use volunteers.

 – We use volunteers to help us stuff and prepare the invitations to send out.

 – Friends and family donate items for the Silent Auction.

Make it easy for people to be generous at your event.

 – Besides the Silent Auction, we host a 50/50 raffle, where the winner receives half of the money and the other half is donated.

 – We use electronic squares to process credit card donations on site that go directly into our LMM Foundation account.

Keep it simple.

 – We have a buffet dinner to make things easier for people.

 – In 2013, the event was much smaller with just those who were closest to us. Each year we expand the Butterfly Ball and guests keep coming back to enjoy themselves and support YSC.


A huge thank you to YSC Champion Lise Muccilo for sharing how the Butterfly Ball started and some guidance on how to create your own fundraising event to support young women affected by breast cancer.

If you’re interested in starting an event like the Butterfly Ball in honor or celebration of someone who has benefited from YSC’s programs and resources, reach out to us! We’re here to help from start to finish and every step in between.

For more resources and other great ideas for DIY fundraising events, click here.

September is YSC Champions Month, so stayed tuned for other awesome YSC Champion highlights on Facebook, Instagram and every Friday right here on YSC’s blog.





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Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

What Do Young Breast Cancer Survivors Need to Know?

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. There is no reliable method to screen for ovarian cancer, so most of these women will be diagnosed at a late stage and only about 45% will survive five years after diagnosis.

Who is at risk?

The average woman has about a 1.3% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer but for some, the risk is much higher. Genetic testing can now identify women at high risk of developing ovarian cancer during their lifetime due to inherited mutation.

 – BRCA1 mutations leading to a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer.
 – BRCA2 mutations leading to a 30% chance of developing ovarian cancer.
 – Mutations in other genes including BRIP1, RAD51c, RAD51d, and the genes associated with Lynch syndrome also increase ovarian cancer risk.

An estimated one in five women with ovarian cancer will have a mutation in a gene associated with hereditary cancer. As a result, all women with ovarian cancer meet national guidelines for genetic counseling and/or testing for hereditary cancer.

Reducing ovarian cancer risk

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect. Experts recommend identifying women who are at high risk for ovarian cancer so they can consider risk-reducing surgery where the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed before cancer develops.

What does this mean for young breast cancer survivors?

Many of the mutations that increase ovarian cancer risk also increase breast cancer risk. Women who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50 meet national guidelines for genetic counseling and/or testing.

What can you do?

1.) Know you’re the history of cancer on both sides of your family
Mutations in the genes that increase ovarian cancer risk can be passed down from your father or your mother. Look for the following signs of hereditary cancer on both sides of your family:

 – Ovarian or fallopian tube cancer at any age
 – Breast cancer at age 50 or younger
 – Cancer in both breasts at any age
 – Male breast cancer
 – Triple-negative breast cancer before age 60
 – Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and breast cancer before age 60
 – Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with breast, ovarian, prostate, melanoma and/or pancreatic cancers.

 2.) Find out if you should talk to a genetics expert
A genetics expert can look at your personal and family history and help you decide if genetic testing is right for you. Consult with a genetics expert with if:

 You were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 have not had genetic counseling or testing. National guidelines on who is eligible for genetics evaluation for cancer risk have evolved over the past decade and women who were not offered testing in the past might now qualify.

 You tested negative for a mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 before 2013 (particularly if you have a family history of cancer). Genetic testing has also changed over the past few years, with expanded panels now looking at different types of mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 as well as mutations in other genes that increase cancer risk.

Knowing that you have a mutation that increases ovarian cancer risks allows you to take steps to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer and inform other family members that they might be at risk for hereditary cancer.  This September, consider your family history and see if genetic counseling and testing is right for you.


FORCE logo***
Lisa Rezende, PhD is Vice President for Education at FORCE, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancer.

Additional Resources from FORCE

Know More: resources for women with ovarian cancer.

Should I Get Genetic Testing?”: the most requested resources on genetic testing

Find a genetics expert

FORCE XRAYS program reviews breast cancer stories in the media.  Learn more about ovarian cancer in their XRAYS report “Institute of Medicine report on state of ovarian cancer research and patient care underscores the need to know if you are at high risk for ovarian cancer,” which reviews recent recommendation to improve ovarian cancer risk prediction, prevention, early detection, and care.

Learn more about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer at the 2016 Joining FORCEs Against Hereditary Cancer Conference, which will be held October 6th-8th in Orlando, Florida.


FORCE staff and volunteers are dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian, and related cancers.


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Get Hitched, Give Support

Yesterday marked the kick-off of a very special event happening all month. For all of September, we will be celebrating the awesomeness that are our YSC Champions. Many people ask us how they can help the thousands of young women that face breast cancer each year. Becoming a YSC Champion is just one of those ways. It’s a really unique opportunity to have fun while doing good in your local community.

One of my favorite Champion events is happening on November 10 in Seattle. Get Hitched, Give Hope is Seattle’s premiere bridal charity and gala–a marriage between a swanky party for those planning a wedding and a fundraiser that generates thousands of dollars for charities each year.

I asked Natasha Larsen, Vice President of Marketing, a few questions to learn more about Get Hitched, Give Hope — our YSC Champion highlight this week.


How did you get involved in this awesome annual charity event?

The very first year I attended Get Hitched, Give Hope, or GHGH, it was as a guest. My colleagues and friends are the founders of GHGH and I went to support them. After that, I was hooked and was asked to join the team! I’ve been volunteering ever since. I believe so much in this event — the love and generosity behind it.  So far, GHGH has raised $67,000 for Young Survival Coalition!

Why did GHGH choose YSC as its beneficiary?

GHGH was founded by women and it was very important that we chose a local charity that resonated with us. Supporting those affected by breast cancer is something that is very near and dear to all of us here at GHGH. We all know of someone who has been affected, not to mention the possibility of being affected ourselves. So, YSC was a perfect fit!

Copy of Get Hitched Give Hope_photo credit La Vie Photography_2

Get Hitched, Give Hope’s team and volunteers donate their time and expertise to make this charity event a huge success! 

GHGH is a very unique bridal event, do you think people feel differently about attending and giving back because all proceeds go to charity?

Yes! That warm fuzzy feeling is the best and I truly believe that the combination of bidding on something they actually need and want, paired with the knowledge they are helping others makes our guests very generous. Even if they end up not winning the auction, they still give in so many ways!

Do you think GHGH has extra special meaning since it helps support young women facing breast cancer? Do survivors attend?

GHGH is definitely special because it’s a one-of-a-kind event focused on helping those in need. Our guests connect with all the individuals they help by attending. There are so many survivors around us, with many young survivors attending as well.

Amazing bridal dresses from Seattle’s finest wedding vendors!

How does GHGH help spread awareness that young women can and do get breast cancer?

During GHGH, we support and talk about YSC to help spread the word about breast cancer in young women, while focusing on the event itself. We also have YSC materials on hand for anyone who needs and YSC volunteers and staff are available to speak more about its programs and mission.

Many times the young women we support have to put their wedding dreams on hold for treatment, some are even diagnosed while in the middle of wedding planning- do you have any advice for them on how to approach planning a wedding or tips for savings?

I can’t imagine what it’s like to face breast cancer! It’s such a challenging time, so perhaps it’s best to really focus on what’s important — marrying the one you love. Letting go of details that you don’t really care about can be very liberating, though it may take some time and honest evaluation to determine what those details are. It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in all things wedding, especially in the age of Pinterest. Of course, cutting down on the guest list is the most effective way to save, but we realize that those facing breast cancer want to have all of their loved ones present. Hosting a desserts and drinks reception is significantly less expensive and still provides that celebratory feel. It can also be held in a smaller, less expensive venue or even a private residence since tables and chairs for dinner are not necessary.

Besides attending GHGH, is there anything else a young couple about to get hitched can do to help young women affected by breast cancer?

There are so many ways to give to the causes you are passionate about. If supporting YSC is of interest to you, check out YSC Champions for some great ideas!

Get Hitched, Give Hope’s
9th Annual Wedding Auction & Gala: Havana Nights
November 10, 2016 at 6:30pm
Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
99 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101
To learn more, click here.


Get Hitched, Give Hope is just one of the many amazing YSC Champions who support YSC. Anyone can be a Champion!

If you’re getting hitched soon, one fun idea is to use Donation Favor Cards — an easy way to give to YSC while offering your guests something unique and special on your magical day. Lots of couples have been opting to give donations to charities that have positively impacted and supported them in lieu of wedding favors.

We created a beautiful Donation Favor Card and a Donation Sign that you can easily print at home and share at your wedding.

Every wedding is unique, which is why we put together a Pinterest board featuring other donation favor card ideas. That way you can design yours exactly the way you want!

All donations to YSC are tax-deductible and help to sustain and expand programs that directly support and empower young women affected by breast cancer.

For more ideas to inspire the YSC Champion in you, click here. Become a YSC Champion Today!



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Categories: YSC Champions

Court Approved! We’re Ready To Adopt

Our Adoption Process: Part 3

Last month, I offered an update on our adoption process and wanted to check back in. My husband and I had just submitted all our documents after undergoing quite a few steps, both administratively and emotionally. So far, I was most surprised by the home study. I expected an interrogation-like investigation, think CSI without a crime scene, but instead we had a warm and understanding visit from a very nice social worker. They’re on your side trying to help you become parents.

Of course, all of these processes are intimidating and a little scary, but it’s for the right reasons. We all want to make sure precious children have the best experiences in life. I’m glad to report that we did something right because the courts approved us as adoptive parents! We’re absolutely delighted and gave ourselves a little break to celebrate with close friends.

adoption letter_2

We’re so excited!

What’s Next For Us

Now it’s onto the next stage of the adoption process, which if you went the independent route like us, includes developing a profile on a site like adoption.com or adoptimist, or you can look at creating your own Facebook page for potential birth mothers to review. We found it really helpful to view other parent profiles for ideas on what we should include on ours.

We’ve also put together a short film to add to our profile. I don’t have the finished article yet, so I can’t share it unfortunately! But my advice would be to ask yourself “what would I want to hear if I was a birth mother?” It’s important to be natural, keep it short and make sure your day-to-day lives come across. They want to see what you’re really like, not how you present yourself on a polished video.

We’re also employing a coach who is very experienced at speaking to birth mothers. As an adoptive mother herself, she’ll walk us through what kind of questions we may get asked and how to respond. She’ll also review our adoption.com profile and give ongoing advice. This support will be crucial for us during a time that is both exciting and scary. We’re moving ahead with the hope that we’ll welcome a child into our lives when the time is right. Wish us luck!



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Categories: YSC SYNC - Survivors

YSC Pups Celebrate National Dog Day

National Dog Day celebrates dogs of all shapes and sizes. It honors the four-legged best friends who bring comfort during challenging times and joy into our lives every day. Instead of me talking about how incredible the YSC dogs are, I’m going to let them do the talking.


Preston loves showing off his handsome good looks

Hi! I’m Preston. My life changed about 3 years old ago when I rescued my mama and she introduced me to a life filled with sunshine! Now I travel around the country and attend different conferences. I love meeting new people–almost as much as I love dinner time! Follow my adventures on Instagram!


Emoji and Inky enjoying bro time

Emoji and Inky enjoying ‘bro time’ on the couch

Hey everyone! I’m Emoji and I’m a blind, deaf, rescue senior, and my brother is a rescued ewok! Collectively we have over 22k Instagram followers, and we help spread the word about adoption and senior rescue! I recently became the VP of Puglicity for Pug Squad and Inky is my security guard. In our spare time, we enjoy testing new recipes to share and hanging out with our insta-famous, rescue friends! I hope you’ll say hi on Instagram and Inky likes when he meets new Instagram friends too!


Rosie posing for the camera

Rosie showing off her paw modeling skills

Fun Facts About Rosie:
 – Loves napping and chewing on shoelaces and playing in the grass!
I recently discovered my bark and it’s the most surprising thing! It works great for getting Mommy’s attention.
My mommy says that I learn stuffs every day like new tricks and words!


Rocky the Best Man

Rocky made the perfect Best Dog

Fun Facts about Rocky:
 – My dad and I are the bestest and most perfect best friends! We love to relax and eat!
Cuddling is my most favorite hobby!
Sometimes I get away with sleeping in the biggest house bed with the humans, and when I do, I sleep just like them on my back and use their pillows for my head.
My bark sounds pretty scary, but I swear I’m a big fluffy marshiemallow that wouldn’t hurt a fly!
I’m not the most athletic in the family. I can walk about 20 minutes, but it feels like a marathon!


Zuko has perfected his puppy eye looking

Zuko has perfected his puppy eye look.

Fun Facts About Zuko:
 – My mom says I look like a teddy bear.
My favorite activity is nibbling on human ears! They taste so good!


Tex and Phoebes sharing a Starbucks Puppuccino

Tex and Phoebe love sharing a Starbucks Puppuccino

Hey. I’m Phoebe and my annoying sister’s name is Tex, but everyone calls her Tex Mex. Two years ago she came to stay with us as a foster and she’s overstayed her stay by like 1 year, 11 months and 28 days. But she can be fun sometimes. Mom gets mad because we play fight all the time and it usually ends with humps, but it’s just teenage angst. UGH parents! Just check out my Instagram and you’ll see how weird and annoying my little sis is.


Maggie at the park

Maggie loves being outside with her favorite Frisbee

Fun Facts About Maggie:
 – My favorite thing is to catch my frisbee outside
I love my Mom’s job because her work stuff is in our house and sometimes I get to chime in on conference calls.
Mom says I have too much energy for my own good. I don’t know what that means, but it doesn’t seem true.


Lila and Gigi playing

Lila and Gigi say the big bed is perfect for afternoon play time.

Hi, I’m Gigi and my sister is a baby giant, but we call her Lila. We’re professional singers; I’m the 1st Soprano and Lila is the 2nd Alto. Lila was the runt of her litter and she only has 7 toes on my back paws because her mom bit them off (OUCH!)! I’m super special because it’s very rare for a schnauzer to be solid white! We both love to go swimming in the creek, but I usually go exploring while Gigi stays and plays in the water. My sister is way more into social media than I am, but you should follow along on her adventures!


Drew staying cool on

Drew knows how to stay cool and comfortable

Fun Facts About Drew:
 – I played matchmaker for my mom because I have the same name as my dad. Having the same name makes a great conversation starter.
When it comes to pooping, I prefer to go in the middle of the road. Mom says it’s awkward, but I don’t understand why.
My favorite place is the beach! Wait, did someone say BEACH?! CAN WE GO TO THE BEACH! OMG I LOVE THE BEACH!?! OMG


Not sure how you’re going to celebrate National Dog Day?

 – Donate to the Louisiana State Animal Response Team who is currently aiding the animals and families affected by the historic Louisiana floods
Teach your dog a new trick.
Volunteer at your local shelter. Many shelters need help socializing and walking dogs.
Take your dog to a local park or beach.
Assist an ill or elderly neighbor by walking their dog.
 – Donate blankets, towels, toys and food to animal welfare organization.
Check out some of these National Dog Day ideas!



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Categories: YSC Behind the Scenes

Just Keep Knitting

I’ve been a knitter off and on since I was twelve. In my thirties, I started getting serious about advancing my knitting skills and learning how to incorporate knitting into my career as a therapist. It was fun to challenge myself by learning new patterns and stitches and the repetition in knitting made it a good way to unwind and relax.

This green scarf was a knit-a-long challenge I worked on during diagnosis and treatment planning.

Little did I know that using knitting to relax would be put to the test after I had my first mammogram. My doctor recommended a baseline mammogram but at the time, I wasn’t worried about breast cancer. I even put it off for a year before going in December 2014 because I had no family history or a lump. I remember knitting in the waiting room for my mammogram and for the subsequent ultrasound that I ended up needing. I kept knitting as I watched women come and go for their exams while I was still waiting. Knitting helped to quiet the “what if” voice that kept trying to push through my mind.

When I waited to have a biopsy because of my ultrasound results, I kept knitting to calm my worries and help me focus on the moment. It was also a great conversation starter as other women in the room asked about my knitting. Even the nurse performing my biopsy was a knitter!

On January 2, 2015, I was diagnosed with DCIS. Following my diagnosis, I knitted at every doctor’s appointment, as we decided the best treatment plan, while I waited to go for my double mastectomy, prepared for my reconstruction, during recovery for both surgeries and as I dealt with losing my job. Through all this, I just kept knitting. “Can I keep knitting?” was at the top of my question list for every doctor.

I knitted for so many reasons during this time. To help me cope with questions like What next? Why me? Why now? I knitted when information and choices became too overwhelming. I knitted as my sister and husband were discussing options with doctors. Knitting was something I could control during an out of control time in my life. I was able to follow patterns and create beautiful pieces in the process. The more I knitted, the more I felt like myself. I could even see my recovery in my knitting.


I knitted this purple sweater for my niece. I felt very out of control between recovery and my job situation so I started the sweater as a way to focus my energy.

Looking back, it’s clear knitting helped quiet the background chatter in my head and process the information so I could make the best decisions for myself. There were still plenty of moments of tears, anxiety and anger, but I have no doubt that knitting helped me through those times. A few pints of gelato also helped. I am lucky since my cancer was caught early and today I am healthy with no evidence of disease. Every few months I need follow-up appointments and you’ll find me in the waiting room of my oncologist’s office knitting away. I cannot control the outcome of those follow-up visits, but I can control my knitting.

Now, I teach knitting as a tool to help others cope with challenges in their lives and manage their anxiety. I’ve seen the benefits of knitting as it helps people cope with unfavorable diagnoses, substance abuse and the anxieties of daily life. Whether you’re an expert or new to knitting – it offers you control and a hobby you can share with others.

Read more about the research and science behind the therapeutic benefits of knitting here:

Project Knitwell

Interested in learning how to knit or want to connect with knitters in your area?

American Craft Council 
Knit Purl Hunter


Thank you, Andrea, for sharing how knitting helped reduce anxiety and cope with your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment!

We have a number of helpful presentations from others on maintaining emotional wellness during and after breast cancer. Check out a few here:

Survivor and Self: Nurturing, Wellness, Becoming Whole Again by Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT (PowerPoint Presentation)

Surviving and Thriving Ever Day of My Life by Kimberly Jewett

Living Fully With, Through and After Cancer by Tambre Leighn, MA, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP (PowerPoint Presentation)

Clearing the Clutter – Mental & Physical Space by Carolyn Koehnline, MA (Presentation Document)

Journaling: Healing with Words by Howard M. Rice

Managing Fear of Recurrence and Anxiety by Julie Larson, LCSW
(PowerPoint Presentation)

Connecting with others who understand is also a great way to work through anxiety. Sign up for the upcoming In-Treatment Online Video Support Group or reach out to the amazing women in your local Face 2 Face Network.



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This Casual Cyclist Did It!

I am a casual cyclist. By casual I mean, I have a bike and I very occasionally ride it very short distances. Ever since I’ve been on staff at YSC (5 years now!), I’ve been intrigued by Tour de Pink, but it always seemed like something impossible for me. How could I ride that far? It seemed like an awesome event, but something for serious cyclists only.

Last year when YSC announced the Inaugural Tour de Pink South, which claimed it was an easy, flat course, something in me made me hit the register button. I had grand plans of becoming a serious cyclist in that time between hitting register and the actual ride, but that didn’t quite happen. I started off strong(ish) with 3 short bike rides the first week I was officially signed up. However, one thing I didn’t really account for was Midwest weather. The cold settled in and this casual cyclist wasn’t about to go for a ride in the snow! I spent a little extra time at the gym over the winter and waited for spring. Our spring was cold, rainy and windy. I officially logged a 4 mile ride and a 12 mile ride outside before heading to Florida for Tour de Pink South. Needless to say, I was terrified! I felt so unprepared and just knew it was going to be a disaster.

While my training was certainly lacking, I decided this was a once in a lifetime event for me and I was going to have fun. I knew there would be amazing support along the course and if I couldn’t ride that far, or fast enough, there would be some pretty great SAG vans to help me out. When all the riders gathered for breakfast before the ride started on Friday morning, I felt totally intimidated. I was in a room full of really serious cyclists. We gathered at the starting line and just as I was about ready to fake an injury or illness, they called all the survivors to the front. Wow. It was simply amazing to see the number of young breast cancer survivors that were riding. For some, they were already cyclists, but for many, this was an opportunity to take their body back after cancer, to show they could do something amazing and that’s when I remembered why I was riding. I was going to attempt to ride my bike 200 miles because I could and because there are too many young women who can’t.

Once the ride started, I found my rhythm. I found groups of other cyclists going my pace and I just pedaled. And I did it. I rode nearly all 200 miles of Tour de Pink! This out of shape, very casual cyclist did it!

Riding in Tour de Pink changed me. It turned this casual cyclist into a not quite as casual cyclist who has signed up to ride in three organized long distance rides this summer. It has given me confidence in myself as a cyclist. More importantly, it made me even more committed to ensuring young women facing breast cancer have the support and resources YSC is able to provide because of the money raised riding in Tour de Pink.

I can’t wait to ride in the second YSC Tour de Pink South and I’d love for you to join my team! So if you are even a little bit interested but aren’t sure if you can do it, or you think spandex shorts aren’t your thing—you can do it! Believe me, if I can do it, so can you! Not to mention 200 miles on a bike will have you loving padded cycling shorts in the end.


Interested in joining the ride of a lifetime?
Registration is only $75 if you sign up between now and August 31!
Use discount code EarlyBird and register here.
This is the biggest discount offered for the ride, so share it with your friends and family to help you build your team or join Mary’s team! The team with the most riders registered by October 1 will win a free team photo taken by the professional photographer at the ride.

See you in the Sunshine State!


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Categories: Tour de Pink