Why you should still care about breast cancer

Caitlin McCormack
Shine from Yahoo! Canada

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and while some people might complain of “pink fatigue” as charities try to raise awareness of the disease with girly-coloured fundraising items, it’s important to remember that breast cancer is a serious illness that affects thousands of women every year and that these women could be our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. In many countries, the number of cases is on the rise, including Canada.

In 2011, approximately 23,000 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die from the disease, according to the Canadian Cancer Society’s website. And it’s not just older women who get the disease - women in their 20s and 30s can also be afflicted. In fact, more than 2,700 Canadian women under 45 will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer this year.

A particularly aggressive form of breast cancer called Her 2+ will affect nearly 500 Canadian women this year. A new documentary, “About Her” follows the stories of nine Canadian women who have been diagnosed with the strain. The story flows around the blog entries of Chatelaine blogger Leanne Coppen as narrated by Kim Cattrall, giving viewers a candid look inside the struggle for life after Her 2+ diagnosis.

[See also: Walnuts found to reduce breast cancer risk]

The women are brave, humourous and inspiring while they share their heartbreaking experiences with the disease. Some are mothers and some are married, yet all of them share the hope that they will beat their illness. While Coppen and Lisa Rendall, whose story was also featured, both lost their battles with the disease, they never lost hope.
“Spending time with these courageous women and documenting their stories was a deeply moving and unforgettable experience. To be able to witness their incredible strength, spirit and determination was a real privilege,” director Phyllis Ellis said at an advance screening of the film in Toronto.

“You expect things to be sad when people have cancer,” Ellis said. “What you don’t expect is the love, and the love in your life. In a moment, it could be gone.”

Four of the documentary’s subjects were also at the screening, including Hayley Mezei, who was 38 and pregnant when she received her diagnosis. Given that most of the women in the film were originally misdiagnosed as simply suffering from breast cysts, Mezei’s advice is particularly poignant:

“If you see a professional and you get an answer that doesn’t seem right to you, question it.”

“About Her” airs Saturday, October 1 at 1 p.m. ET/PT and Wednesday, October 5 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on W Network. The documentary will also be broadcast on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Canada) on Saturday, October 15 at 7 p.m. ET. It has also been chosen as the closing film of this year's Breast Fest Film Festival.

(Photo by Leonard Adam/WireImage for Rethink Breast Cancer)

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