In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we celebrate the people who have battled against breast cancer and came out stronger:
Every single day in Malaysia, 102 people are diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s the most common cancer suffered by women in the country, claiming more than 20,000 lives each year.
Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, and no woman (or man, for that matter) is immune to the disease. It clamps its nasty claws on just about anyone, from our friends and loved ones, to the famous faces we know and love.
While their stories are certainly no more important than anyone else’s, we adore these public figures for speaking out about their experience with breast cancer. Their inspiring stories help raise awareness of the deadly disease, while spreading knowledge and educating the world about breast cancer.
1. Sheryl Crow
Rock star and mother-of-two Sheryl Crow has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, while her shelf features nine gleaming Grammy Awards. Her biggest win though, would be against breast cancer. When she was diagnosed in 2006 with early-stage breast cancer, she immediately underwent minimally invasive surgery (a lumpectomy) and seven weeks of radiation. Her cancer was detected early enough that she could skip chemotherapy. “I’m a walking advertisement for early detection,” she said later on, and she’s now an advocate for breast cancer awareness.
2. Christina Applegate
When an MRI uncovered a mass in the actress’ left breast in 2008, her world toppled over. Breast cancer ran in Applegate’s family, but she never once thought she would really fall victim to it. She also got checked for a BRCA mutation (a mutation which increases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer by 50-80%, as well as the odds of your cancer returning) and was found positive. At age 36, Applegate opted for a double mastectomy and is now cancer-free. She is a passionate advocate for early detection, and was saved because she went for frequent check-ups despite not being at risk then.
3. Kylie Minogue
Sexy superstar Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with cancer just days before her sold-out Australian tour in May 2005. She was initially given the all-clear but her gut feeling told her to pursue a second opinion, which ultimately led to the final diagnosis of breast cancer at age 36 (and saved her life). Her message? “Because someone is in a white coat and using big medical instruments doesn’t necessarily mean they are right.” She urged women to trust their instincts and not to fear going back to the doctor if they suspect something.
4. Olivia Newton-John
A crooner with the voice of an angel, Olivia Newton-John is best known for her role in Grease alongside John Travolta. Her life took an abrupt turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer the same weekend her father succumbed to cancer in 1992. She was 44 then, and fought the cancer through chemotherapy and a partial mastectomy. “It’s been a long journey, but now I’m cancer-free. The whole experience has given me so much understanding and compassion. I now want to help others going through the same journey,” she wrote on the website of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center, of which she’s a patron.
5. Maggie Smith
You’d recognise Maggie Smith anywhere, who played the stern Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series and more recently, the star in Downton Abbey. Having been acting for decades, Smith has 70 awards under her belt, including two Oscars, five BAFTAs, three Emmys, and numerous more. This strong, resilient lady was actually battling breast cancer when she was filming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Despite undergoing chemotherapy and suffering from its side effects, she stayed strong through the filming period and is in remission now.
6. Liza Wang
One of the veteran actors in Hong Kong, Liza Wang has acted in over 60 TV series and films and has won hundreds of awards. Nicknamed Wang Ah Jie (or Big Sister Wang) in the Hong Kong entertainment circle due to her long-time experience, Wang has also triumphed over cancer not once, but twice (the first being thyroid, then breast cancer). She now actively participates in raising awareness and fundings for cancer patients as an executive committee member of the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society.
7. Ann Romney
Wife of politician Mitt Romney, the former nominee for the 2012 US presidential election, Ann Romney has always had a heart for social work, being involved in several children’s charities. In 1998, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but managed to continue living her life to the fullest, doing what she loves — equestrian sports. However, in January 2009, bad news struck again and Romney was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily for her, she discovered the cancer in its early stages and was treated successfully. “As I know from my own experience with breast cancer, prevention and early detection could not be more important”, she wrote in a guest post on Glamour.
8. Diahann Carroll
Having been in the industry for nearly six decades, Diahann Carroll has established a name for herself in Broadway, TV and film. You’d probably remember her from Grey’s Anatomy and White Collar, her latest stints. In 1997, when she was 62, Caroll was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram. “Having no family history of breast cancer, and having always been conscious about my diet and exercise, I had a false sense of security about cancer. ‘It wouldn’t happen to me’, I thought,” she recalled in an interview in 2011. Carroll is an advocate for cancer education and regular screening. “My cancer was detected early because of a mammogram. I knew that the message of early detection was crucial.”
9. Maura Tierney
Maura Tierney played a nurse and doctor for 10 years on the medical drama ER and was set to star in Parenthood when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Tierney really feared chemotherapy thanks to all the nasty things she’s heard about it but managed to quell her fears by talking to her doctors and learning more about chemo. “Be loud. Don’t be embarrassed. Ask any question because no question is stupid when it comes to chemotherapy.” she said in an interview with Fox News.
10. Richard Roundtree
Richard Roundtree’s a familiar face on TV, having starred in several TV series from Se7en to Desperate Housewives. But he also became the face for male breast cancer when he was diagnosed in 1993. Roundtree kept his breast cancer battle in the closet till he was cancer-free for five years. He then announced it at a breast cancer fundraising event to the shock of many. “The room was totally silent,” he said in an interview with ABC News. “I think it dawned on many people that men can be affected by this, too.” He believes that telling his breast cancer story is now a “backhanded blessing”, a reminder to men out there that they should get checked too.
Each of these people have triumphed over breast cancer and lived to tell a variation of the cancer story. Their main message however remains clear. If you want to beat cancer, early detection is key.
Mammography has proven to be a powerful diagnostic tool for the early detection of breast cancer. However, breast tissue is sensitive to radiation and it’s important to subject your boobies to as low a dose as possible. Among the technology currently in the market, the Philips MicroDose Mammography allows doctors to get excellent images for detection of potential abnormalities at a low radiation dose.
This article was brought to you by Philips Healthcare Malaysia.
Help spread breast cancer awareness! Simply take a picture of something in pairs representing breasts or snap a photo of you or your loved ones or friends wearing or using something pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Just post and tag all your photos with #philipsBCA on social media to help get the word out.
Do the best for your breasts! If you found something unusual, sign up for a a FREE Mammogram Screening HERE (or click on the pic below) by Nov 15, 2014.
Know a truly inspiring breast cancer survivor with a story to tell? Share their tales with us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page!