Serena Williams is the latest celebrity to step up in the fight against breast cancer. As the tennis powerhouse strips down for the newly launched teaser campaign while lip syncing to the Divinyls track I Touch Myself, the Grand Slam champion is firmly hitting the ball back in our court to create awareness for breast cancer this October.
Williams has signed on for the I Touch Myself Project, a campaign that was launched in partnership with bra manufacturer Berlei in 2014 after Chrissy Amphlett, the lead singer of Divinyls, died from breast cancer.
Over the past few years, more and more celebrities have stepped up this fight, sharing their own personal stories of their battles with the big C. From Angelina Jolie to Tahira Kashyap, here are 10 women who are telling people across the world to top stop making excuses and get yourself checked today.
In May 2013, Angelina Jolie stunned the world when she revealed her decision to get a double mastectomy following a faulty gene, BRCA1, which increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
In a New York Times op-ed, the award-winning actress and humanitarian wrote about her mother’s decade-long cancer with battle, which resulted in her death, aged 56.
“My doctors estimated that I had an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Jolie wrote. “Once I knew that this was my reality… I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.”
Jolie stated the reason she took her battle public was in hope that other women could benefit from her experience. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts… But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action,” she wrote.
Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana’s wife Tahira Kashyap revealed in September that she was detected with pre-invasive breast cancer. In a detailed Instagram post, the 35-year-old chronicled her diagnosis, a Ductal Carcinoma in Situ or DCIS that was found in her right breast with high-grade malignant cells.
“Simply put stage 0 cancer/pre-cancerous stage, with cancer cells multiplying in a contained area,” Kashyap posted on Instagram. Referring to Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who had a double mastectomy to reduce her breast cancer risk, Kashyap added: “The result I have become a half Indian version of Angelina Jolie (since only one breast was involved).”
“I am 35, and I was returned twice over from a mammogram. If any symptoms come up, think of it as a protective force and get yourselves examined,” she added.
On the day she released a single from her new album in August, Lebanese singer Elissa shocked fans when she announced she had secretly battled and overcome breast cancer earlier this year.
With a message that read: “You are the reason I am strong and healthy… you are my strength. And this story is a thank you for all those who love me,” Elissa’s music video Ila Kol Elli Bihebbouni (To Those Who Love Me) made a strong statement of her struggles and the importance of early detection.
She continued: “I’ve recovered, I’ve beaten the illness, and I won. Early detection of breast cancer can save your life... don’t ignore it, face it. Do it not only for yourself, but for your loved ones.”
The Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus recently opened up about her battle with breast cancer after making a successful return to the sets of her HBO show, which is currently filming its seventh and final season.
In a recent interview with InStyle, the 57-year-old actress spoke about how her life has changed since her diagnosis in September last year, admitting that she had to undergo three rounds of chemotherapy.
“I’ve come out the other side of this, and I’m still not exactly sure how to define the difference other than to say I’m grateful, of course, but it’s more than that,” she said. “It’s bigger.”
When not shooting, Louis-Dreyfus is busy advocating for other breast cancer patients. Her awareness drive includes helping Carolina Herrera designer Wes Gordon design a T-shirt to raise money through its Key to the Cure programme, which offers financial support to breast cancer patients who can’t afford reconstructive surgery.”
Singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, who announced in September she’s battling cancer for a third time with a tumour in her lower back, has been facing an uphill battle since 1992.
Opening up about her diagnosis, the Grease star, who turned 70 on September 26, told Australian show Sunday Night that she isn’t alone in this battle. “I’m one of millions in this fight… in this journey. I see it as part of my mission maybe,” she said.
Last summer, the singer was forced to postpone her US and Canadian concert tour dates after she learned the back pain that initially caused her to postpone the first half of her concert tour turned out to be breast cancer that metastasized to the sacrum.
The yesteryear Bollywood actress, best known for her roles in Do Raaste (1969) and Khilona (1970), beat breast cancer nearly 18 years ago. In an interview with DNA in 2006, Mumtaz spoke of her ordeal with chemotherapy.
“It began with a benign lump on the breast… they removed the lump. I went through chemotherapy for a year which made me feel continually sick,” she told the Indian daily. “I lost all my hair and my eyelashes. I looked like a Cabbage Patch doll. My husband bought me beautiful wigs. I never wore them. I wore scarves instead. In life, I have never believed in anything fake. I also gained much weight as a side effect.”
The actress credited her family and friends for helping her through the ordeal, saying: “I don’t give up easily. Even death will have to fight me.”
Australian pop star, songwriter and former actress Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 after being misdiagnosed earlier. Following rounds of radiation, chemotherapy and a partial mastectomy, she was given an all-clear a year later.
As she turned 50 in May, Minogue reflected on the decade gone by in an Instagram post. “This decade also bought the challenge of breast cancer. With the help of family, friends, medical teams and of course all of you, we made it through. There are some great organisations who are there to help those in need such as breast cancer care. If you need an idea for a birthday, here it is,” she wrote.
The American actress, best known for her roles in Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed, has undergone chemotherapy, a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery following her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015.
Doherty’s cancer is now in remission and the 47-year-old is poised to return to television in Lifetime’s No One Would Tell remake. But she is channelling her courageous battle into her work as she starts the new chapter in her life.
In an interview with People magazine, Doherty stated: “Cancer helps me get in touch with everything within myself, so I have a lot more to draw on. And all of that is something you can use in your acting.”
Breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow has made it her life’s mission about educating women about getting mammograms regularly.
In a powerful essay penned for People magazine last year as Crow celebrated 10 years of winning her battle with cancer, the singer urged everyone to stop making excuses and get tested.
“Whether it’s fear of finding out they have cancer, or a misconception that a mammogram isn’t the right type of screening for their breast type — excuses abound and many of them come from a place of fear or misinformation,” she wrote. “I consider it my responsibility, as someone who credits surviving breast cancer to early detection and my commitment to getting my annual screening, to tell every woman I meet she needs to stop making excuses and schedule her exam.”
Three years after her on-screen BFF Samantha Jones battled breast cancer on Sex and The City, series star Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda Hobbes on the show, was diagnosed with the condition in real life. Nixon, aged 40 at the time, was well-versed with the ins and outs of breast cancer considering her mother was diagnosed with it in 1979.
Nixon, who is now an advocate for people get checked regularly, spoke of her experience with Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden, saying: “I felt scared… I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want this to be happening’. I was very cognizant of if it’s going to happen, this is the best way for it to happen, that it’s found so early and we can just get right on it.”