“I knew that an MRI saved my life, and I also knew that women were opting not to get their MRIs because of expense,” she says. “So I just felt like, why isn’t someone taking care of these women and paying for this? That was the initial mission, but now, we want to open up to all ages. We’re incorporating young men and women who had childhood illnesses and had to receive radiation who are developing breast cancer at age 18. My other goal — and this all can only be done with funding, and we don’t have enough to do that now — but I want to take women through their whole journey. So, say their MRI comes up positive. Then we will pay for their biopsy, we’ll pay for their treatments if they don’t have insurance, we’ll pay for genetic counseling, genetic testing — go through their whole journey with them, as long as we can.”
Many celebrities shy away from speaking so openly about their personal health struggles and neglect to put their money where their mouths are, as Applegate has. When she is praised for her courageousness, she shrugs it off. This initiative, she hopes, is just the beginning. “I get a report every month of how many women we have in the program,” she says. “We have hundreds right now. I want thousands. However many millions of women who are BRCA positive, I want them in our program. Every girl I know who has had breast cancer has been under the age of 40. Every single one. I don’t want this to be just this tiny foundation. I want this to be LiveStrong.”
Applegate and I sit on her couch a while longer, sharing stories of the push-pull of parenting, of friends who have come out on the other side of cancer. Eventually, I sense that tug in her — Sadie is somewhere in the house and may be waking up any minute — so we say our goodbyes, and she insists on walking me to my car. Outside, two enormous jungle gyms sit ready for playtime, and a Beware of Dog sign hangs on the gate. We laugh over the irony of the sign and little ?Tallulah’s utter lack of ferocity. She used to have guard dogs, she assures me; the sign just never came down.
Thankfully, Applegate — with Martyn, Sadie and Tallulah — has found her own kind of security.
Commitment to the Cause
Every October since 1994, American Airlines proudly hosts its annual Celebrity Golf & Tennis Weekend, with portions of the proceeds raised going to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Promise Grant at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for new treatments for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). This year’s event, which runs from Oct. 4–7, is presented by Konica Minolta and will be held at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., one of Golf Digest’s Top 75 Golf Resorts.
Over the past 18 years, the event has raised more than $8 million to help further the Komen foundation’s commitment to a cure, and 2012 will surely be a banner year: Expected participants include renowned athletes and celebrities such as Phil Esposito, John Havlicek, Branford Marsalis, Rod Laver, Rollie Fingers, Fred Lynn, Gerry Cheevers, John Cafferty and Jim Lonborg, among others.
If you’d like the chance to hit the links and the courts with these boldface names, as well as support Susan G. Komen for the Cure, head to www.aaevents.com for more information.
Allison Winn Scotch is the New York Times best-?selling author of four novels, including the recently released The Song Remains the Same. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.