BY: VIVIAN GATICA
Earlier this year, Angelina Jolie shocked the world by announcing she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy after she found out that she carried the gene mutation associated with breast cancer. She is only 38. According to the National Cancer Institute, one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Among these, almost 2 percent are between the ages of 20 and 34.
While it seems like a small number, what if you were part of this mere 2 percent? What if you carried the gene mutation that could change your life without even knowing it? Would you do something about it?
Liliana Komorowska brings this issue to light in her documentary “Beauty and the Breast,” which follows the journeys of nine diagnosed women at different stages of the disease. One of the women, Kathleen, was 27 and a three-time victim of cancer, one of which was breast cancer that eventually killed her.
“[Cancer] is not bigger than you,” Komorowska said. “We can demystify the monster, and arm ourselves with the best knowledge.”
The idea for “Beauty and the Breast” came from a woman in the film named Soraya. She had just finished chemotherapy, and approached Komorowska to help her bring it to life. Soraya had a father who had died from cancer, and made it her mission to spread knowledge of what cancer truly entailed.
“That was a wake up call,” Komorowska said. “I needed to go deeper to where we find strength to approach this illness if it happens to us.”
The nine breast cancer victims featured led us through every emotion and sacrifice made to overcome the beast of breast cancer. The audience is a witness to what Komorowska describes as “human resilience.”
“They allow you to enter their lives, and you see how you deal, how you feel, and what could happen to you if you are faced with breast cancer,” she said.
The women in the film come from completely different backgrounds, ages and cultures, while sharing the one thing they wish they never did. The audience sees how they cope and choose to attack the disease, most of which chose the mastectomy.
“You never know who it's going to get,” Komorowska said. “The film is a portrait of the women who know that there is a life force inside of us, and we need to ignite it.”
Because of this, Komorowska stressed the importance of younger women taking precautions like getting tested for the gene mutation or getting mammograms at an earlier age.
“[Cancer] is very democratic; it takes anybody,” she said. “It’s not a life sentence until you allow it to enter you emotionally and physically, and drain you to the bottom.”
Komorowska advises young women to listen to their bodies, and watch the film to gain knowledge about what can be done to prevent breast cancer, as well as cope with it.
“It is in our own hands, and we have to look at health from the perspective of how fragile it can be,” she said. “Life is also about arming yourself against the ‘what if.’”
“Beauty and the Breast” is scheduled for release on October 11 in commemoration of breast cancer awareness month. Learn more about the documentary at beautyandthebreastmovie.com.