About 1 in every 7 South African women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. To mark the start of International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Addi Lang’s FOREVER CHANGED initiative has been launched to spread a message of hope and support.
‘Stand up, speak out, be a speaking voice and live by example.’ Addi’s heartfelt words instantly touched the audience as she began to tell her story at the press conference hosted by Blue Note Events and Caitlins Casting at the Bryanston Sports Club on 1 October 2014. ‘Change remains for a lifetime,’ she said; ‘I am living every woman’s nightmare.’
FOREVER CHANGED is a campaign focused on cancer prevention, early detection, patient rights, doctor-patient negligence and messages of hope to all women. The press conference brought home the hard reality of a cancer diagnosis and how it fundamentally changes a woman’s life forever. However, Addi emphasized that, how you cope with this change is defined by how you approach it. Change is always a challenge, but it can also positively transform your life. Take responsibility for your health and own it!
FOREVER CHANGED is represented by the butterfly to reflect the change and transformation that happen when any woman is touched by cancer. Life is never the same again once diagnosed. Addi has also defined herself and others fighting the disease as warriors – people who have a battle to fight, but are courageous and capable. The FOREVER CHANGED initiative helps enable women to have the courage to fight this disease, feeling armed with all the information and knowledge they need, whilst still having hope.
The MC for the press conference was TV Presenter for Good Morning Africa and Radio announcer and producer, Sheila Pires. Local celebrities also showed their support for this initiative, including the likes of Zoleka Mandela, Megan C, Emmanuel Castis, Paulinah Somo and Melissa Moodley. It was truly heartwarming to see people coming together to support the cause and make a difference. Listening to the speakers, who are all cancer survivors or are currently fighting the effects of cancer, was inspirational! They included Cat Glennie (life coach and spiritual healer), Cindy Van Wyk (scriptwriter), Lizel Wheller (owner of Bella Donna Scarves) and Kerrin Black (director of Faces of Hope Foundation).
Addi is the official October Ambassador for the Faces of Hope Foundation, an NGO that raises funds for people who need financial assistance with cancer treatment. The celebrity supporters presented the Faces of Hope Foundation with an original artwork of a butterfly by Dimi Korvessis, to be auctioned to raise funds. A percentage of all products sold on facesofhope.co.za goes to those who apply for assistance through the foundation – by purchasing their products you can help make a difference, too!
The FOREVER CHANGED initiative also embraces music as a way of coming together to raise awareness and show support. Local singers recorded covers of ‘Forever Changed’ and ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ to pay tribute to the awareness campaign. Singers included Shae Webb, Liane Heyl, Megan C, Emmanuel Castis and backup singers from Caitlins Casting agency.
The conference also marked the birth of the FOREVER CHANGED and BUTTERFLY BLESSINGS range of turbans by Bella Donna Scarves.
The overall message of the conference was clear: early detection and the approach we take to fighting the physical, mental and emotional challenges that come with cancer make such a difference. Cancer changes you, but it does not define you. Lizel Wheller put it beautifully, ‘I decided that cancer will not define me. I made it my defining moment.’ Like many other women, Lizel found her way through the disease. FOREVER CHANGED hopes to inspire women to find the courage they need to do the same, for themselves and for each other.