Helen Bowles’ friend Jean was crazy about reading lifestyle magazines and known to always carry one in her handbag.
Jean was a single woman in her 40s who was always on the go. Her work with the National Association of Realtors kept her busy. But after an ovarian cancer diagnosis in Chicago, she found her love for the magazines waning as she saw less of herself reflected amid the pages.
The hairstyles, outfits and shoes always caught her attention, but overtime, they didn’t bring the same excitement, according to Bowles. Spending years as a personal trainer at Lake Highlands Family YMCA, Bowles was involved in the activities of two centers. The two women met years before the diagnosis at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas while Bowles was recruiting a new associate VP of membership.
Bowles was able to spend a lot of time with Jean going to some of her cancer treatments since she had no local relatives in Chicago. Then one night, in 2017, Jean shared with Bowles her feelings on lifestyle magazines.
“She shared with us one night at dinner and said, “These magazines make me sad,” and we said, ”That’s interesting. Why is that?’” Bowles says. “She said “Going through treatment, when I pick up one of these magazines now, it makes me realize I can’t do the hair tips. I can’t do the makeup tips. My body is changing structure. You know, relationships are complicated.’”
A magazine for women with cancer just wasn’t available at the time.
“[Jean] said, “I would love to see a lifestyle magazine for women with cancer that gives them those same exciting feelings and empowers them to live their best life despite their cancer diagnosis’”
Bowles thought it was a great idea, but also thought it might be a task for someone else. However, after Jean’s death in January 2020, Bowles was moved to fulfill her friend’s hope for a lifestyle magazine by and for women with some personal experience with cancer. A few months later, Brighter Magazine was in the works. Bowles serves as editor-in-chief.
The onset of the pandemic and the difficulty for women to get through a cancer diagnosis further inspired the former Lake Highlands neighbor to start the magazine.
“This idea came back up, and I thought that’s a really great way to serve a large group of women who may be hurting. But now, not only are they dealing with treatment, but they’re also dealing with COVID,” Bowles says. “So, I reached out to my brother-in-law, (he’s also in Lake Highlands) and asked him if he had a female oncologist I could speak to.”
Bowles’ brother-in-law connected her with a breast surgeon located in Fort Worth.
“She and I got on the phone and she said she cannot believe that this is not being done already. We left the conversation and she said, “If you don’t do this, someone else will.’”
From there, Bowles connected with other oncologists in clinics across the state, including Baylor, UT Southwestern and Cooper Clinic. Those oncologists would then connect her with cancer patients or survivors. They weren’t comfortable at first, but a photojournalist friend found some leads around Highland Park to share their stories with the magazine.
Brighter currently has two issues out, the first came out last April, and releases new issues quarterly. Female patients and survivors of any cancer are welcome to write and submit stories on beauty, lifestyle and relationships.
The magazine is distributed to interested women in Texas and Utah, Ohio, New Mexico, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
Brighter can be found on Facebook and Instagram at Brightermagazine.