Breast cancer is the most common cancer in France and is the leading cause of cancer death in women. It is the subject of a national screening program organized in order to be detected early and to reduce mortality. It is aimed at women aged 50 to 74, an age group where this cancer most often appears in women,
“From the age of 25 and whatever your level of risk, it is recommended to carry out a clinical breast examination (palpation) once a year. This quick and painless examination makes it possible to detect any anomaly. It can be carried out by a general practitioner, a gynecologist or a midwife”, specifies the National Institute of Cancer.
“According to figures from international studies, organized breast cancer screening programs can reduce breast cancer mortality by 15 to 21%. Thus, thanks to screening, 100 to 300 breast cancer deaths are avoided for 100,000 women regularly participating in screening for 7 to 10 years”, explains the National Health Insurance Fund.
Lot-et-Garonne rather good student
In Lot-et-Garonne, the screening rate is one of the best at the regional level. In 2021, 62.1% of Lot-et-Garonne women in the age group concerned by organized breast cancer screening were screened, which is equivalent to 18,626 screenings.
This week, there is a curious atmosphere in the Agen shops which have chosen to participate in an unusual event: a fashion show made by models who are not at all professional, invested in this “glamorous” role just because they are affected of a cancer. A nurse, a patient, an association president, had this somewhat crazy idea of bringing on stage women who were not really in good shape, nor in “beautiful shape”. The result was stunning last year, for the first edition of this parade proposed by the Cancer Committee of Lot-et-Garonne. It took place in Colayrac and the success was such that the village hall turned out to be far too small to accommodate all the spectators. This year, the parade takes place at the François-Mitterrand cultural center in Boé. It’s this Sunday, October 2, at 3 p.m., admission is free, open to all, a raffle will raise some funds for this association which supports patients, by offering them a host of well-being workshops. , in the body and in the head. The Cancerology Committee is located next to the Cromg, the radiotherapy and oncology center of Moyenne-Garonne, quai Calabet.
This week, therefore, it was a question of sacrificing to the fittings of the outfits, in the participating Agen shops. And already, the magic was working. Some appointments were fixed in advance, others not. This is how, quite by chance, four “models” found themselves investing the cabins of the Elle M boutique on Tuesday morning. Some knew each other for having participated in the very first parade. The others had never seen each other. Apart from this “bubble” moment, each has her life, her family, her friends, her loneliness, her habits, her rites established to support the pains, the anxieties, her treatments.
Cancer is no longer just an “excuse” to indulge yourself
“It’s cancer that brings us together and ultimately, cancer, it’s never a question!” comments Muriel. “It’s true, neither really knows what cancer the other has and what protocol they follow.” In the morning during the fitting, in the afternoon under a drip in Calabet. The day before in Bergonié, the next day laughing out loud between two racks in a classy boutique.
“For me, this show is a great first,” commented Marie-Christine just before putting on a cashmere coat-dress set and heeled ankle boots. The years begin to waltz in the shop, time is fed up and goes back. Smiles light up the faces of both the models and the shopkeepers.
“This show is pure fun,” says Muriel. “And then, above all, we want to tell everyone that despite cancer, we can continue to do things, to remain a woman,” adds Marie-Christine.
On the day of the parade, the models will meet in the morning to have their hair done, made up, dressed and put on. They will know their order of passage and strictly adhere to it.
Honestly, none of them really want to talk about their cancer. All of them know what it is, between them, they do not need to explain the side effects of the treatments, the fears of the Tepscan vigils and at the same time the relief of being able to monitor the evolution of this disease which does not never really quite disappears.
This year, “news” have been added to what looks like, for the time of a parade, a sorority. Others won’t come because they’re really too tired. Another is gone for real. Such is life.
The importance of screening
Woman, breast cancer patient, mother, mayor, Marie-Laure Grenier testifies
A year ago, Marie-Laure Grenier was lying on an operating table. A first time. Then a few days later, a second. His life has changed. It was only supposed to be a removal of a breast tumor and a few sessions of radiotherapy. Eventually, she underwent a mastectomy, several sessions of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and then hormone therapy.
Marie-Laure Grenier is also mayor of Cassenueil, vice-president of Grand Villeneuvois and departmental councillor. And it all happened almost at the same time. “In one year I was elected mayor, it was in June 2020 and in July 2021 I did the 52-year-old screening and there was something”.
Accustomed to living at top speed, always well dressed, long blond hair showing off her pretty well-groomed face, she suddenly changed her world. “Like many women, I was overtaken by cancer”.
We had to take the shock. Then, “I decided to be completely transparent with that. I informed my entourage and my constituents”.
Marie-Laure Grenier approaches the Cancerology Committee which offers support and comfort care, right next to the Cromg. That’s when she got wind of this somewhat special fashion show.
“I’ve paraded before. I lent my head many times to my hairdresser, she was enjoying my hair. I’m a pure product of the 80s! I don’t have the model size, I’m not super beautiful , but I’ve always liked this fashionable side, which is very feminine.”
So when she looked at herself in a mirror, she saw a woman with no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, dried and bruised skin, damaged bust, one breast missing. “I had a hard time recognizing myself.”
She lives her chemotherapy sessions during the Covid period. “I was alone in my room, masked, I had to keep my distance, we couldn’t touch each other, no cuddle therapy… Fortunately, I was well surrounded. I sometimes saw these ladies who came by ambulance, alone, so sad”. And then, life did its work. In these moments when it seems that the bottom is not very far away, an unsuspected energy awakens in the bottom of the being, a hitherto unknown light which pushes you to breathe, to open your arms. And she coped.
“Cancer has masculinized me, that’s how I feel”
“My hair has grown back, I have a pixie cut, all curly. Curiously, the cancer has masculinized me. The mastectomy has masculinized me. I feel like I’m half-masculine and half-feminine I’ve been wearing a prosthesis now, for only three weeks, but I’ve totally embraced it. It allows me to restore myself”.
Marie-Laure Grenier, with her role as an elected official, evolves in a political world, let’s say it, still too masculine. She also lives alone with her children, taking on “the role of mother as well as that of father”.
The disease made him see and experience things differently. A new life while remaining in the same one. “Before that, I was sure of myself, I had confidence in myself. And there, I felt like a very small vulnerable thing, which could die overnight”.
This fashion show, she welcomes it as an opportunity to live her femininity again. And above all, “no longer be seen as a cancer patient”. “I spent last winter in pajamas. I only put make-up on during videoconferences which allowed me to continue working”.
Marie-Laure Grenier learned to “negotiate with losses”. “I had a certain image of myself. I’m sometimes nostalgic about it. But I negotiate! And I’m still here. This show falls exactly a year after my first operation. I’ve always been attentive to the signs!”
The Cancerology Committee and Action Cancer 47 are offering several events during the month of October, in many towns as well as healthcare establishments. Here are some of those appointments.
Sunday October 2:
Action Cancer 47 and the city of Agen present a pink village. On the program: sports and well-being stands from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., picnic on site at noon and eco-responsible market at 2 p.m. Free events, open to everyone with Action Cancer 47; Blue Orange (sports animation); Rugby Santé 47 (information and demonstration rugby at 5); Rowing from Agenais (initiation to Rowing Health section); Fire Cheer (dance demonstration); Saint-Damien Stables (equitherapy information)…
Sunday, October 9:
in Pompeyrie in Agen, hike organized by the hospital center of Agen.
Sunday October 16:
At 3 p.m., gospel at the church of Eysses, organized by the Lot-et-Garonne Cancer Committee.
Saturday October 22:
In Aiguillon, close of Pink October with many activities all day long, including a fashion show as well.