Chatting Breast Cancer Awareness with Actress Jennifer Morrison

By: Luana Mattos, Guest Blogger

Breast cancer is a very sensitive topic for me; two of my aunts were diagnosed with this type of cancer. One of them died a year after a cancer recurrence that took over her entire body, and the other one is (successfully so far) fighting the cancer. So, I cannot close my eyes and cross my arms to this disease that not only is the second leading cause of death among women but also whose estimates have alarmingly increased over the decades.

Last year Angelina Jolie shocked the world because she had a double mastectomy. What would be every woman's last option was Angelina's first response to the possibility of this disease. Breast cancer sees no race, no gender, no age, or status, it sees only one way out and that is: precaution and self-exam!

But Angelina wasn't the first celebrity to bring our attention to this important topic, the TV movie FIVE, directed by Jennifer Aniston, Patty Jenkins, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore and Penelope Spheeris explores the impact of breast cancer on people's lives in every angle, and reminds us that with early detection and right treatment the chances of a successful result are improved.

For this piece, I had the chance to interview Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time), who graciously accepted my request to talk about her experience on the set of FIVE.

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What inspired you to be part of this movie? Did anyone close to you experience this disease? If so, how was it?

When an opportunity to do what I love is also connected to a good cause, saying yes is always the obvious choice. My immediate family has been touched by cancer, not breast cancer, but cancer. It is always a terrifying word. Every diagnosis seems to hold a different mystery. Unfortunately, it is always a mystery that includes a tremendous amount of fear and often times endurance of pain. I have several friends who have watched their mother’s battle breast cancer and the waiting and the wondering creates an energy of fear that is densely palpable.

Your character lived in a different time in history in which this topic didn't have much awareness and basically no chance of surviving. But today, even with all the information and resources we have, breast cancer's occurrence has increased, what do you believe we can do to raise more awareness on this disease?

We have come a long way since the times when my character in FIVE was facing her sisters' breast cancer.  So often now, breast cancer is treatable and survivable. I believe the end goal, however, is that breast cancer should be 100% curable. Science is moving in the direction of truly isolating the problem and finding a true cure. My producing partner, Andrew Carlberg, paired up with Fran Visco from the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the coalition recently launched their mission to cure breast cancer by 2020 (http://breastcancerdeadline2020.org). They are making huge strides in finding a cure.

After every one of the five tales I was either laughing, crying or both, all of them were very touching and inspiring. How was the vibe on the set? How was to be surrounded by a cast and crew of powerful women?

Each short film was shot separately. I was only around the cast of my segment and the director Demi Moore. Demi has a powerful and positive presence. She is kind and strong. Direct and vulnerable. I feel like is it so important to remember that powerful women are a beautiful combination of strength, intelligence, and vulnerability. Marta Kauffman and Paula Wagner, who are two of the executive producers, are also examples of this kind of well-rounded woman. Being surrounded by women that I respect and admire definitely drew me to the project as well. The tone on set was quite serious.  Everyone could feel that we were creating something that had an important message and everyone wanted to be sure to try their best to get it right.

Did you have the chance to meet breast cancer survivors on the set or relatives of patients that fought the disease? If so, how inspiring was to hear their stories?

As I mentioned, several of my friends have helped their mothers face breast cancer. It is a disease that even when it is conquered leaves a lasting mark on the victim as well as the whole family. The fear and the pain that they face together is a scar that never fully heals. A dear friend of mine Amie Satchu runs an organization called Living Beauties (http://livingbeauty.org). They focus on the quality of life for breast cancer patients.  They have retreats where women can connect with other cancer patients and get in depth advice about how to have the best quality of life possible while battling the disease. Often times, women are single moms trying to battle the disease and continue raising their children and more often that we want to think, they lose their jobs because they cannot continue working and then they cannot afford proper care. Living Beauties helps women find alternative solutions, payment plans, and kindred spirits to help them through their battles. 

Special thanks to Julia Morrison for making this interview possible. You’re the sweetest!

About Luana

Luana_Mattos.jpgLuana is Christian girl whose faith inspires her to be the best version of herself every day. Besides her work as an administrative supervisor, she is a freelance journalist and writes a column about real life experiences, focusing on topics relevant to social projects, volunteer work, and awareness campaigns for the Brazilian website www.hollywoodeaqui.com. She also had the opportunity to interview Nicholas Sparks, Wm. Paul Young and L. J. Smith.

 

image via imdb.com

 

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