"Cancer is really hard to go through. And it's really hard to watch someone you love go through. And I know, because I have been on both sides of the equation. It's hard to say which is harder."
That bit of knowledge and the notion that women with breast cancer need to trust their doctors and intuition is the gist of what actress Cynthia Nixon wants people to know about breast cancer and the way to triumph over even the most dismal survivor odds.
She told hundreds about her own relatable journey with the disease at the Power of Pink luncheon in August on Sandy Hook, the proceeds of which benefitted the Leon Hess Cancer Center at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch. She gave that speech a few months ago, but its highlights continue to resonate with many area women.
The Emmy, Tony and Grammy award-winning actress of Sex in the City fame told the audience the story of her 82-year-old mother's battle with cancer as well as her own. She offered her own perspective on survival empowerment, saying that seeking one another out for support and being one's own health-care advocate are crucial to winning the fight against the disease.
"We should never underestimate the power of that, either for healing or as an information gathering tool," she said, adding that she just went off her Tamoxifen in the spring and her mother has survived a years-long cancer fight, armed with the weapons of instinct and support.
Taking advantage of the tools of medical advance and making them available to everyone are just as critical to survival, Nixon said. With the help of fundraising efforts, Nixon said it is easier for medical experts to serve a more expanded population and closer to home, where they're more comfortable, can better afford the care and have a greater likelihood of being surrounded by the comfort of hometown familiarity and support networks. Those things, she said, can be more beneficial in surviving the cancer fight than more costly care a greater distance away.
Nixon told of how, despite her celebrity resources, has found in her own, her mother's and a friend's battles with cancer, having that trust in familiar doctors, friends, family and surroundings can reduce anxiety and help pave a smoother path to recovery for cancer patients.
A friend immersed in her own battle, she said, shared a story about how having faith in familiar, hometown health-care sources "gave (me) a whole new perspective how important it is to ensure that you have state of the art, multidisciplinary cancer care close to home. Finding people you can trust and rely on is half the battle when you're facing cancer — when you're facing any health-care issue."
Keeping that in mind, Nixon said that "the war against cancer, unfortunately, is still raging" but prepared women are winning with love, support, trust and self advocacy in treatment ... "And that's news that really ruins cancer's day."