What Elizabeth Hurley Has Learned In Nearly Three Decades of Breast Cancer Activism

Elizabeth Hurley first aligned herself with the Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign in 1995, after she was approached by Evelyn Lauder to use her platform as a model to talk about something important: “She said ‘It’s for breast cancer. Women all over the world are dying and no one is talking about it. And I want to change that.’”

Hurley, who lost her own grandmother to breast cancer just a few years before, did join up with Lauder’s cause and has been a powerful face and voice in the breast cancer advocacy space ever since.

Now, looking back on the last three decades of work, funds raised for research and breakthroughs in healthcare, Hurley caught up with SheMedia’s VP of Video Reshma Gopaldas, who is also a breast cancer survivor, for a conversation about her long history of advocacy, breast healthcare best practices (self-exams! getting your mammograms!) and what it really means to be and stay beautiful (inside more-so than out) in a world that can make it challenging to do so.

“I have to say, today, 26 years later, it’s a different world,” Hurley says of the changes she’s witnessed in breast cancer awareness. “My son is 19 and he’s never known a world without the pink ribbon. That’s really why this has been such a great campaign and why we don’t have any intention of stopping.”

It’s hard to imagine a world before the ubiquitous pink ribbon campaign (and the millions of dollars of funds for research they and other orgs like them have raised), one where you weren’t being reminded by loved ones and brands alike to get your cancer screenings and support research initiatives each October, but that’s just part of the huge transformation Hurley and other advocates have seen in the last three decades — and it’s also why she and others in the space are hopeful that the momentum will continue and we might get to see a world without breast cancer related deaths in our lifetime.

“The Estée Lauder companies have given away more than 180 million pink ribbons. It symbolizes unity, it says that people care, it says that breast cancer is not a dirty word, there is solidarity in talking to people, perhaps, it symbolizes hope,” she says. “Breast cancer hasn’t stopped. One in eight women will be diagnosed with it and you’ve got to stay on top of it.”

Before you go, check out these products that breast cancer survivors can actually use: 

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