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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

Let’s talk about cancer: Angelina Jolie, other celebs show the way

Durga M Sengupta, Hindustantimes.com  New Delhi, May 15, 2013
First Published: 16:07 IST(15/5/2013) | Last Updated: 19:04 IST(15/5/2013)

Angelina Jolie’s fearlessly penned op-ed regarding her double mastectomy in the New York Times has resulted in more respect for the Hollywood star internationally. Jolie urges women all over the world to take the possibility of cancer seriously.



Jolie had written, “For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.” Read the op-ed here.

Moreover, making a succinct point about how women don’t lose everything with lost breasts she writes boldly, “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”

Jolie’s decision to get surgery done isn’t the only bold move she has made. In fact, her initiative to discuss her experience on an open platform encourages her readers to get tested and cured and also to write and release their concerns to others in similar situations.

But Jolie isn’t alone. Women celebrities over the years have laboriously documented their tryst with cancer, often launching campaigns and pulling other women out of the fatal disease with them. As Jolie posts her regimen on the website of Pink Lotus Breast Centre hoping to help other women like her, Grammy-winning singer Sheryl Crow and cancer advocate looks on appreciatively. Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and underwent radiation overcoming illness. She campaigns to raise awareness about annual mammograms. Crow’s approach to cancer is to be approachable herself. She often enthusiastically joins in discussion forums about breast cancer.

The most heart-warming fact is that celebrity efforts don’t go waste. Australian pop-star Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Minogue’s fight through surgery and chemotherapy garnered much publicity, encouraging women all over the world to get screened, so much so that her feat won a tag called the Kylie Effect.

Actress Lisa Ray
The bold, cancer-defeating women are making one thing clear: the more you talk, the more support you get and give. Canadian-Indian actress Lisa Ray of the Water fame was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2009 and religiously posted her day-to-day battle with cancer on her blog. She recorded her journey through disease to complete recovery.

Ray writes with brutal honesty, “For me, it was a relief to hear what was wrong. The plasma cells in my bone marrow were rampaging, multiplying, squeezing out the red blood cells and it was time to begin doing something about it. I was also tired of being tired all the time. And you just know when something is not kosher with your body. So when I sat there with Bobcat — my life partner and reservoir of Yellow—and got the news I didn't react and I didn't cry. I'm an actress, believe me, I can be dramatic. Not just then though.”

Her moving account not only inspires women like you and me but also other stars caught in the web of cancer. Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala who was diagnosed and operated for ovarian cancer in 2012 thanked Lisa Ray for giving her the strength to undergo surgery. Koirala tweeted, “Got a chemo cut... thank you Lisa Ray for this term... in fact thank you or your blog, thank you for your honesty and boldness... God bless you." She also constantly updated her status on Facebook to keep her followers informed. One status reads, “Missing home, my friends... missing being healthy and fit... one day at a time... one moment at a time, one breath at a time... one step at a time.”

So as the celebrity divas lay their stories of battling cancer bare for readers and victims of cancer waiting for an encouraging hand to guide them, one is left wondering if the true grit of star power lies on-screen or off it.

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