Ranavat Botanics is dedicated to going beyond skincare to create a community around empowerment. Just as we want to help instill confidence and promote self-care, we want to celebrate beauty that goes more than skin deep. One way we’re doing this is by sharing stories from incredible individuals who have faced adversity and turned their experiences into empowerment—what we call a “Claim Your Crown” moment.
During the month of May, we have been spotlighting inspirational Moms - so for this Month's Claim Your Crown Story it was fitting to feature Parul Somani: a mom of two young girls, who graciously sat down with us to share her Claim Your Crown moment.
At 31, Parul Somani had just given birth to her second daughter, recently started a new job, and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing played an integral role in her early diagnosis and empowered her to become her own advocate. Somani is a testament to the value of genetic testing and today she’s actively helping to make it more accessible to everyone, making it her mission to educate others and remove barriers to access. Here, she shares with us her Claim Your Crown moment—how she demonstrated incredible strength during the most challenging time of her life and ultimately discovered a calling that would ignite a new passion and pave the way for her next journey.
On June 4, 2014, Parul Somani scratched her chest and felt a lump. While many women might brush this off—especially at 38 weeks pregnant as she was—Somani had a heightened paranoia because she knew her risk profile for breast cancer. In 2012, she had learned she’s a carrier of a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, now coined the “Angelina Jolie gene,” after a doctor had recommended she get genetic testing due to her family history. The average woman’s risk of breast cancer is 10-12%. Somani’s risk was over 80%. She proactively started mammograms, MRI scans, and a screening program.
So when Somani felt the lump two years later, she insisted on scheduling an ultrasound, undeterred by her doctor who noted that given her age and that lumps are common during pregnancy, it was probably nothing to worry about. After a complicated delivery when their daughter arrived two weeks early, Somani’s husband wheelchaired her from the NICU to the breast clinic to have the ultrasound and biopsy done, despite continued reassurance from doctors that it was likely just a clogged milk duct. It was on her daughter’s one-week birthday that Somani received the call from the breast surgeon telling her that the mass she felt was “malignant after all.”
Learning her risk profile from genetic testing and being able to detect her cancer early completely changed Somani’s prognosis. “Having that information empowered me to be my own advocate and be proactive and get the lump checked out, insist on an ultrasound, and not let what others were saying dissuade me from pursuing it,” reflects Somani today. “I truly believe it saved my life.” Being her own advocate also gave Somani tremendous strength during even the most difficult times. “There’s so much of this journey and the process that feel like things are happening to you,” she describes. “Wherever I could find an opportunity to feel like I was taking control and being the one who’s proactive was really empowering.”
Today, a breast cancer survivor, Somani is dedicated to increasing awareness about and accessibility to genetic testing, leading global marketing for Color’s enterprise and clinical channels. “When I came across Color and its mission was focused on democratizing access to genetic testing, I literally felt like I had found this mission that I didn’t know I was looking for,” explains Somani. “I felt so personally passionate and the mission just resonated so much with my life story.” The genetic test Somani took in 2012 cost $4000. She was only qualified to take it because of her family’s history, despite the fact that about 50% of people who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation do not have a family history of cancer. Color offers a BRCA1 and BRCA2 test that’s also physician-ordered, clinical grade, medically actionable, uses next-generation sequencing, and is just $99.
Through her work with Color and in the inspiring message of perseverance she shares with the world, Somani claimed her crown and is empowering others to become their own advocates in managing their health. Even during her long and arduous journey, receiving chemotherapy and undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, all within the first year of welcoming her second daughter, Somani was committed to helping others find strength through her story. The Blog she wrote in real time, from the point of diagnosis through her starting reconstruction, has been read in almost 80 countries. When Somani thinks about the advice she would give her readers, her daughters, or anyone, it’s to surround yourself with positivity. She believes, and learned firsthand, that “the strength of a positive mindset is incredibly powerful when going through your darkest times.” She references the 90-10 rule, where 10% of life is what actually happens and 90% is how you choose to react to it.
“I think there are a lot of different ways I could have chosen to react to the news of my diagnosis and the timing of it, such as dwell on just how unfair life is and wonder why this is happening to me. Instead, I chose to be positive, be empowered, and be focused on what it is that I’m fighting for and living for,” Somani says. “I really believe that mindset helped me get through one of the most challenging times of my life, and helped me realize the many silver linings that I have to be so thankful for.”