All in the name of good health: Angelina Jolie and my friend Marisol, plus Runwalk 2013

This week we all heard of Angelina Jolie’s difficult medical decision, and subsequently, all the opinions surrounding her double mastectomy, as a preventive measure against breast cancer. Although I had never been a fan, I must now confess that I have newfound respect for her and for sharing her story.

The first person I thought about, almost immediately after reading her op-ed for the NYT, was my dear friend Marisol Rosas, who made the same decision and underwent the same surgery a few years ago.

Angelina Jolie and Marisol have things in common: the experience of losing their mother at a young age, the family history, the genes, and a young family of their own to think of. I can not imagine being in the position of having to make that choice, but since Marisol is such a brave and beautiful soul, it does not surprise anybody that knows her that she overcame the fear and went through with the experience with courage and grace.

Marisol is now volunteering to educate other women in a similar situation to learn about their choices, as part of an organization called FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, where she volunteers as their National Help Line Coordinator. I am very proud of my friend, who has my total admiration for overcoming this difficult situation and now deciding to help others. She has a fundraising page for FORCE where you can make a donation, in any amount, towards this cause. Please take a look at her story, it’s both in English and Spanish and written by her sister Gaby. The page link is here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/MarisolRosas/heroes

Click on the image to read Marisol's story and donate.

Click on the image to read Marisol’s story and donate.

You can imagine that after the Angelina Jolie story came out, there was a lot of interest in all of this, and Marisol was on television the next morning on Univision San Diego.

Click on the link to watch the video (en español) and see how great she did on TV. The link to the interview is here: http://www.univisionsandiego.com/videos/?pl_id=21522&va_id=4058199

Bravo Marisol, we’re so proud of you!

♥♥♥

On a related note, last Saturday May 11 was the 20th annual Revlon RunWalk at the LA Coliseum, and –Full Disclosure– I was invited to take pictures and walk with Team Macy’s, who was one of the major sponsors.

The event always draws tens of thousands of people, women, men, entire families who have al been affected by breast cancer and other women’s cancers, and who all want to put an end to it.

There was joy and optimism in the air, even as you read the signs and the reasons why people were walking and participating. It always gets to me, reading those signs, with names and pictures of the people who’ve passed and the survivors who’ve beat it. We are all affected, we all must do what we can’t to support the fight against it.

Here are a few pictures of a wonderful event.

She's there EVERY year. The beautiful Ms. Halle Berry at the starting line.

She’s there EVERY year. The beautiful Ms. Halle Berry at the starting line.

Lilly Tartikoff, founder and organizer for RunWalk, and Andy Garcia, who came out to support and cheer everybody on.

Lilly Tartikoff, founder and organizer for RunWalk, and Andy Garcia, who came out to support and cheer everybody on.

All those signs you read, all the names, they are powerful reasons to walk and fight for a cure.

All those signs you read, all the names, they are powerful reasons to walk and fight for a cure.

Such a great group of people, getting up super early on a Saturday morning to walk: Team Macy's.

Such a great group of people, getting up super early on a Saturday morning to walk: Team Macy’s.

Walking into the LA Coliseum is such a great feeling. Here approaching the finish line.

Walking into the LA Coliseum is such a great feeling. Here approaching the finish line.

We should all be paying attention: Cancer Awareness Week

(Para mi amiga Marisol Rosas, the bravest ‘Previvor’ and fighter I know. Wishing you a speedy recovery and sending out all our good vibes so you can be well soon. Ánimo, Te queremos mucho!!)

Cancer is that subject that you never want to deal with, the word you never want to hear, the illness that most scares us. As Woody Allen says in one of his movies, “The most beautiful words in the English language are not ‘I Love You’ but ‘It’s Benign.” (He’s right!)

This week is “National Minority Cancer Awareness Week” (NMCAW) from April 18 through April 24. The American Cancer Society is urging Hispanics and all minorities to be aware of the statistics and recommendations to prevent cancer. We like to avoid screenings and checkups, and yet they are essential, just as eating good food and exercising frequently. We need to know these things and apply them to our daily lives to prevent and fight cancer. Health is our most important possession and we must all keep doing our part to be a healthy community. Even Placido Domingo, who was recently treated for colon cancer, acknowledged that he was lucky because he was treated early for it. And now he’s back to work, as you can read in the article (here) from the LA Times.

Here is the information the American Cancer Society shares in honor of Awareness Week:

Statistics

  • Hispanics are the fastest-growing and youngest minority group in the US.  45.5 million or 15 percent of the total US population is Hispanic.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 20 percent of deaths in adults and 13 percent of deaths in children.
  • About 1 in 2 Hispanic men and 1 in 3 Hispanic women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
  • Cancers of the stomach, liver, and uterine cervix have the highest incidence and mortality rates for Hispanics, especially among first-generation immigrants to the U.S.

Recommendations

  • Community-level engagement to work with families to promote a healthier life-style and include nutrition and physical activity.

-increasing access to healthy foods in schools, work and local eateries

-provide safe, enjoyable spaces for physical activity

-increase access to preventive services such as screenings

  • The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings to improve the chances of a cure for some cancers by detecting it at an early stage.

-For women in their 20’s and 30’s, Clinical Breast Exam are recommended, preferably at least every three years; Women 40 and older should get mammograms annually.

-Colorectal screening is recommended for men and women starting at age at the age of 50

-Men should discuss prostate cancer screenings with their doctors to determine what level of screening is appropriate.

-Cervical cancer screening should be done every year.

  • Access the American Cancer Society website for more information, resources, services and programs at www.cancer.org/espanol or call toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for information in English and Spanish – 1-800-227-2345.