What does Rob Lowe know about fighting breast cancer? Sadly, more than anyone should ever have to. He not only lost his mother to the disease, but his grandmother and great-grandmother as well. He has been on a personal crusade ever since to raise breast cancer awareness.
Mr. Lowe was the keynote speaker at Baylor’s 13th annual Celebrating Women luncheon last Thursday. While his speech was moving and inspirational, it was equally heartbreaking.
Usually, we hear the patient’s point of view, but rarely do we hear from the loved ones who are left behind. There was not a dry eye in the house when Mr. Lowe shared details of the grief he and his family suffered after losing his beloved grandmother and the pain he felt after his mother passed away following a diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer.
But laced between the emotion of his speech, he emphasized important calls-to-action that we can all learn from:
1.) Get your mammogram. In 2000, Rob Lowe was named the first male spokesperson of Lee Jeans’ National Denim Day® which has raised millions of dollars in the fight against breast cancer. In his Celebrating Women speech, Mr. Lowe remarked he was concerned that preaching about the importance of early detection may be overkill. “After all, haven’t most women received that message by now?” Unfortunately, his own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer around that time. She never had a mammogram despite her mother and grandmother dying from the disease. “How does this happen?” he asked. Having a regularly scheduled mammogram is critical to early detection. If you are not familiar with the current mammogram recommendations, you can find them here. To help determine your risk for breast cancer, take our breast cancer risk assessment.
2.) Don’t let fear trump hope. While Mr. Lowe’s grandmother was “a lesson in stoicism, optimism and bravery” in her fight against breast cancer, not everyone tackles the disease with that kind of attitude. Mr. Lowe shared that his mother remembered the pain and fear of her mother’s battle with breast cancer and ultimately let the fear trump hope. “Fear can sometimes make cancer look like a walk in the park,” he said. “But there is so much hope in the war against cancer. Today, a cancer diagnosis is not the end. It’s the beginning of a journey that is transformative and enlightening.”
3.) Cancer is a family disease. According to Mr. Lowe, we all feel the pain, fear and turmoil of this disease. “Cancer is a formidable adversary,” he says, “but the most powerful weapon we have is the love and support from family and friends.” After his mother was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, he and his family spent as much time with her as they could. What he learned was that “the length of time is less important than the quality of time.” Breast cancer—or any serious illness for that matter—has a way of putting things into perspective. “Everything else falls away.”
Who knew that this 80′s “Brat Pack” heart throb was such an advocate? I now have a new-found respect for him. From all of us at Baylor Health Care System…Thank you, Rob Lowe for sharing your personal story with us. You are making a big impact in the fight against breast cancer!
This post was contributed by Ashley Howland, social media manager, Baylor Health Care System.