Few people could juggle being an actor, model, swimwear designer, farmer and mom but for Elizabeth Hurley it’s all in a day’s work. Since signing as a spokesmodel with Estée Lauder in 1995, the timeless beauty has embraced the late Evelyn H Lauder’s passion for helping women live longer and better lives, and everything she undertakes reflects that commitment.
For many years Liz enthusiastically toured the world with Evelyn Lauder on behalf of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign, raising awareness about the importance of breast health and early detection, and raising funds for research to find a cure. The breast cancer cause strikes close to home for Elizabeth as her grandmother died of the disease in 1992. Like so many women of her generation, her grandmother had been afraid to tell anyone that she had a lump.
You’ve travelled around the globe for many years with the late Evelyn Lauder, supporting BCA campaign. Why are you so passionate?
In her lifetime, Evelyn Lauder was a vibrant, inspirational and passionate leader in the movement to raise awareness globally about the importance of breast health and early detection in saving lives. Just after I started as an Estée Lauder model in 1995, Evelyn asked me to help her with The BCA Campaign, and we became good friends.
My grandmother had recently died of breast cancer, so it was a cause very close to my heart. This is a disease that knows no boundaries and does not discriminate, touching everyone in every country around the world. Thankfully, in the US and Europe, breast cancer is no longer spoken about only behind closed doors or in fearful whispers. However, in many areas of the world, awareness lags dangerously far behind, and stigma and access to quality care remain critical issues. Even with extensive education, many women fail to have potentially life-saving mammograms, eat healthy foods or get sufficient rest and exercise.
What is the challenge for The BCA Campaign in 2013?
This year’s BCA Campaign is committed to raising $5 million to support breast cancer research, education and medical services worldwide. The 2013 BCA Campaign theme, “Let’s Defeat Breast Cancer. We’re Stronger Together.”, is a call-to-action that will serve to shift public focus from awareness to increased action, advancing us further towards eradicating breast cancer from our lives.
This October, we will be using social media and key partnerships to inspire action and provide a global social experience that will invite people from all around the world to create their own “Circles of Strength” comprised of friends, family, co-workers and loved ones to rally around any action — large or small that could advance us toward eradicating breast cancer all together.
These Circles will be a part of a larger experience on BCAcampaign.com, enabling people to feel “stronger together” within their own defined groups, and as part of a larger global community. Circles can take specific actions such as: Agree to see a doctor regularly and get an annual mammogram if age 40 and older; Make healthy lifestyle changes; and Join together to raise funds for The BCRF a donation of $50 raised by a Circle funds approximately one hour of critical, lifesaving research. Each $250,000 raised fully supports a BCRF research project for one year. Any donation amount to BCRF can be made through BCAcampaign.com.
How does maintaining a healthy lifestyle fit into breast health education?
I have my own organic farm and only eat meat that we’ve raised there. I don’t eat dairy but buy it for the family from the farm next door. I grow most of my own vegetables and buy the rest from our local farmers’ market. Every year on my birthday, I visit my doctor and get a mammogram, and I encourage all women 40 and older to do the same. Women should see their doctors and have their breasts checked regularly, report any changes in their breasts to their doctors and get an annual mammogram if 40 and older.
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Are breast exams really that important?
Early detection is essential. I have four very good friends, all of whom were under the age of 40 when they were diagnosed with breast cancer, and because each of them were able to detect it early they are surviving and thriving today. If they hadn’t been taking their breast health seriously, they might not be here. The important thing is to pay attention to your own body and if you notice changes or irregularities, have a conversation with your doctor right away.