October is hailed as Breast Cancer Awareness month and is dedicated to creating awareness about the disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states breast cancer as the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and cause of the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. Early diagnosis has been determined to be key in cancer treatment by reducing barriers to care and/or improving access to effective diagnosis services. If breast cancer is identified at an early stage, it allows more effective treatment and reduces the risks of death to a great extent. Screening and testing women to even with no symptoms is vital and using tools like mammography, clinical breast exam and breast self-exam.
This month we bring to you stories of some popular women who fought their own breast cancer battles and conquered it, showing many others out there that resilience and courage can be key to fighting a deadly disease and if they can do it, so can many others. They prove that there is a life after it too.
The famous yesterday actress Mumtaz who gave hits like Khilona, Apna Desh, Roop Tera Mastana, revealed recently that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2000 when she was 54, after identifying a malignant lump in her breasts. She overcame it with determination and family support after medical intervention and rounds of chemotherapy. Mumtaz quoted in a media interview, “I don’t give up easily. Even death will have to fight me.”
The Wimbledon tennis champion was diagnosed with a non-invasive form of cancer, called ductal carcinoma in situ, which was detected during a mammogram in 2010. The cancer was surgically removed followed by radiation treatments, and Martina, who said she skipped her mammogram for several years, urged women to get the test done regularly.
Christina Applegate, who played Jennifer Aniston’s sister in the series Friends has undergone a double mastectomy after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She had inherited the BRCA1 genetic mutation, a trigger for breast cancer, which her mother is also a survivor. In 2009, she founded Right Action for Women, which assists women at increased risk for breast cancer who don’t have the insurance or financial means to cover the high costs of breast screenings.
Singer and a Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 44 and underwent minimally invasive surgery and radiation. “With your diagnosis comes a lesson, and for women who’ve shared their lesson with me, it’s always the same,” she told in a media interview. “Women are overachievers. We take care of the people around us while we work and do a thousand [other] things.” But she women must learn “to put on their oxygen mask first before putting it on anyone else.”
Famous south Indian actress Gautami was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 35 and overcame it. She is known for her films Apoorva Sagodhararargal, Raja Chinna Roja, Dharma Durai, and Iruvar. She has also done Bollywood films Janta Ki Adalat, Pyar Hua Chori Chori, and Teesra Kaun? and also became a costume designer later.
“I received my diagnosis of breast cancer on a Valentine’s Day”, she wrote in her blogpost Life again in 2016. “I guess. I was fortunate. I had loved ones around me, supporting me in whatever way they could. And through it all was my daughter, who walked with me every step of the way”. She has found an NGO Life Again Foundation.
Actor Ayushman Khurana’s wife Tahira Kashyap has been in the news recently for her diagnosis of breast cancer and how she battled it bravely. Tahira had “stage 0” breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy procedure. She has a show, “My Ex-Breast”, a 7-episode series on Audible Suno, where she talks about fighting cancer and its effect on her family. She has also turned author with her recent book, 12 Commandments of Being a Woman.
These women have only fought through their sufferings to emerge stronger at life. Do you or someone you know has a cancer story to share? Let us know in the comments.