Benjamin Bratt and Talisa Soto Encourage Breast Cancer Screenings
- Actor Benjamin Bratt recently opened up about his wife’s private breast cancer battle. His wife, actor and former model Talisa Soto, is now cancer free and wants people to know about her experience to encourage others to get screened.
- The American Cancer Society (ACS) says women should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.
- There’s no right way to deal with cancer. A person’s health is a private matter, and a cancer battle is arguably even more private. This is why some people, including celebrities like Soto, choose to keep their health struggles out of the spotlight though she’s sharing more about her cancer journey now that she’s cancer-free.
The former model, 54, was diagnosed with breast cancer during the pandemic.Read More
Fast forward to today, and Bratt is happy to report that his wife’s treatment was successful.
“She’s doing great,” he said. “The medication rocks the hormonal system a little bit, but the good news is, she was found to be cancer-free at this point. So we’re just on guard to make sure it doesn’t come back.”
The Message from Benjamin Bratt and Taliso Soto
Bratt also talked about how Soto wanted him to share her story to remind others “that it’s important to get your screenings yearly, that you have to self-advocate for yourself and take care of yourself. Not just eating well, but you have to get to the doctor and make these exams a part of your regular life.”
He added that his wife’s cancer diagnosis also made him take his health more seriously.
“I immediately got on getting my colonoscopy, which I had held off for too many years,” he said. “So it’s something to be thoughtful about.”
And this is an important message given the fact that screenings for breast and cervical cancer through the Centers for Disease Control’s Early Detection Program dropped 87 and 84 percent respectively during the height of the pandemic, according to data from the CDC. That announcement also came just two weeks after the director of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Norman “Ned” Sharpless, said that there were “95 percent declines in various kinds of cancer screening–mammography, lung cancer screening, colorectal cancer screening, and Pap smears for cervical cancer,” during the pandemic.
The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening
Screening for breast cancer is typically done via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and signs of cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says women should begin yearly mammogram screening for breast cancer at age 45 if they are at average risk for breast cancer. The ACS also says those aged 40-44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year, and women age 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms.
For screening purposes, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer such as a BRCA gene mutation or a medical history including chest radiation therapy before the age of 30. Beyond genetics, family history and experience with radiation therapy, experiencing menstruation at an early age (before 12) or having dense breasts can also put you into a high-risk category. If you are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, you should begin screening earlier.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Connie Lehman, chief of the Breast Imaging Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, said people who hadn’t reached menopause yet should prioritize getting a mammogram every year.
“We know that cancers grow more rapidly in our younger patients, and having that annual mammogram can be lifesaving,” Dr. Lehman said. “After menopause, it may be perfectly acceptable to reduce that frequency to every two years. But what I’m most concerned about is the women who haven’t been in for a mammogram for two, three or four years, those women that have never had a mammogram. We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives.”
It’s also important to be on top of self breast exams. If you ever feel a lump in your breast, you should be vigilant and speak with your doctor right away. Voicing your concerns as soon as you have them can lead to earlier cancer detection which, in turn, can lead to better outcomes.
Keeping a Cancer Battle Private
A person’s health is a private matter, and a cancer battle is arguably even more private. This is why some people, including celebrities, choose to keep their health struggles out of the spotlight. Soto, for example, apparently battled breast cancer unbeknownst to most people, though she’s sharing more details about her breast cancer journey now that she’s cancer-free.
People like actress Kelly Preston, who was married to actor John Travolta, also kept her cancer battle a secret; she died of breast cancer at age 57 last summer. Her death was a surprise to many as her cancer diagnosis was widely unknown to the public.
On announcing her death, Travolta, now 67, noted at the time that he – like his late wife – would opt for a quiet, private road ahead as he began to grieve his wife. The actor posted to Instagram: “I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal.”
Actor Stanley Tucci also recently revealed for the first time that he privately fought tongue cancer three years ago. And actress Helen McCroy, wife to actor Damien Lewis, passed away in April at age 52 after a private battle with cancer.
People have different reasons for whether they share the news of their cancer diagnosis or not. For Marquina Iliev-Piselli, she says that sharing the news can be a burden.
“Deciding when and who to tell became quite a burden,” she previously told SurvivorNet. “So you have to relive your story over and over again.”
This alone is reason enough for some people to keep their cancer diagnosis under wraps, but, in the end, the decision is up to the person diagnosed with the disease. On the other end of the spectrum, some people find it liberating to tell others about their diagnosis and share their story to build a community of support. Whatever you do, it’s important to remember that there’s no right way to deal with cancer as everyone handles it differently.