Merilee A. Kern, Motivational Speaker

A serial SurThriver who shares her compelling story with others to inspire and uplift

"Whether overwhelmed with the chaos of everyday life or facing extreme adversity, you must dig deep to tap your inner well of strength, resolve, and tenacity needed to stay the course…and come out
on the other side better than ever."

Speaking Topics/Programs:

--Mastectomy Mayhem: Hissy Fits, Hilarity & Humility from the Front Line

--The Previvor Approach: The Power and Perils of Choice Regarding Hereditary BRCA-Based Beast & Ovarian Cancer

--SurThriving: Digging Deep to Stay the Course and Triumph Over Adversity

--Turning Chaos into Clarity: Tapping Inner Strength, Resolve & Tenacity

Full Speaker Profile

Downtime and indecisiveness are words that are not in Merilee A. Kern's vocabulary. This 21st Century soccer mom owns and operates a thriving communications agency, founded and serves as Executive Editor for an internationally syndicated lifestyle brand, is a regularly featured television personality, and her prior accomplishments run the gamut from earning her MBA degree by age 23; to authoring an award-winning, first-of-its-kind obesity-related children's book and APP; to winning multiple bodybuilding championships--a hardened fitness regimen this "40-something" maven maintains even today. All of this as her two teenage children thrive as A students and extracurricular sports MVPs. Merilee is, in fact, the very definition of a renaissance woman: a savvy entrepreneur, media personality, author, journalist, publicist, athlete, health advocate, and proud single mother. 

She is also BRCA1 positive, putting her at a sharply increased, near guaranteed risk of developing breast cancer and/or ovarian cancer in her lifetime.

When, in her early 40's, Merilee was unexpectedly given what she now calls "the gift of knowledge" that she carried the “faulty” BRCA1 gene, making a breast and/or ovarian cancer diagnosis in her future more likely than not, she was faced with a litany of excruciating decisions that would ultimately change--and give--her life. As Angelina Jolie and other brave and resilient cancer-free women have chosen to do, Merilee opted to take preventive action and have a prophylactic double mastectomy in addition to a bilateral oophorectomy and hysterectomy to take her near certain risk of developing one or both cancers down to almost zero. Merilee asserts, "It was the hardest decision that couldn't have been easier to make."

At a time of her life when Merilee was "in the thick" of a contentious 3-year long divorce battle; navigating the awkward and insecure waters of being an "admittedly vain" single woman in her 40's re-entering the dating scene; managing multiple professional interests now as the sole breadwinner in her home; keeping her children's lofty academic standards and extracurricular activity schedule "on course"; and as her own mother who lived 3,000 miles away from her was bravely fighting a BRCA-related cancer of her own that ultimately claimed her life, Merilee dove head first into surgical intervention that, although it significantly altered her body, has uplifted her spirit and has given her strength in so many unexpected ways. And, what a long strange trip it's been.

Merilee now shares her story, which is rife with ups, downs and ridiculousness, with other women to give them insight into what goes into making a decision of this nature and caliber, what's involved in the process when choosing this surgical course (whether as proactive/preventative or a reactive measure to cancer), and how incredible the final physical result can be. She also seeks to uplift and inspire both women and men who face their own difficulties and challenges (health-related an otherwise), even when multiple adversities present at once--and how to dig deep to tap their inner well of strength, resolve, and tenacity needed to stay the course…and come out on the other side better than ever.

Ultimately, Merilee's message echoes and underscores the sentiment Angelina Jolie so eloquently stated in her New York Times op-ed: "Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of."