Interview with Rita Forte, testimonial for AIRC of the Oranges of Health. The singer tells us how she overcame breast cancer and her commitment against cancer
The AIRC Health Oranges are back, on Saturday 26th January, to raise funds for cancer research. 20 thousand volunteers will be present in 3 thousand Italian squares.
Smoking cessation, proper nutrition and exercise can prevent the formation of 1 tumor out of 3. And Italian red oranges are the symbol of a healthy diet, because they contain anthocyanins, natural pigments with exceptional antioxidant powers, and about forty percent more vitamin C than other citrus fruits.
Rita Forte is among the godmothers of the event. The singer, who overcame breast cancer many years ago, told us what it means to represent AIRC and how it defeated the terrible disease.
What does it mean to be a testimonial for AIRC, the Italian Cancer Research Association?
For me it is a pride, I am grateful to AIRC for involving me and giving me the opportunity to tell so many people about my experience with cancer. I am committed to supporting the 5,000 AIRC researchers and I hope my story can help people who, directly or indirectly, are facing their battle against some form of cancer.
Years ago she was struck by breast cancer, how did she face this difficult experience?
Many years ago I discovered I had a tumor by doing a simple breast ultrasound: my doctor became suspicious because of a dot on his left breast. I did further tests and an MRI. That suspicion was well founded, I had a carcinoma … I was operated on with a very small incision. I was lucky because I didn't do chemotherapy or radiation therapy. I admit that when the radiologist diagnosed the tumor, the world collapsed on me, but I had the strength to react quickly and now I realize the importance of prevention: thanks to a control, I saved myself.
What advice can you give to women who are experiencing the same situation?
I suggest, of course, not to fall and be positive even if it is not easy. Equally to rely on doctors and specialized centers where to find the most advanced treatments. I wanted to publicly tell the story of my illness to say that cancer can be cured. Research over the past twenty years has made great progress but much remains to be done to make cancer increasingly treatable.
As a public figure, do you feel invested with a particular responsibility in raising women's awareness of the fight against cancer?
I am very keen to remind all women but also to all men that they never skip checks with doctors. Not even one. Prevention can really save our lives! Not doing analysis out of fear is foolish. Anything taken in time is increasingly treatable successfully, I know it well. But if we neglect ourselves, if we do not control ourselves out of laziness we risk much more. Health appointments should not be missed even if you feel well. Each of us has specific ones according to age, and missing them involves a great risk for life itself. So let's take care of ourselves, we find the time to go to the doctor! And I recommend Saturday we all go to the streets to look for AIRC volunteers to take the Oranges of Health, which are good and support the work of researchers.
As AIRC reminds us, smoking is the avoidable risk factor that most affects health: in Italy one in four people smoke, 85-90% of lung cancers are caused by the cigarette, which is also the origin of many other tumors. Among these are those that affect the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, intestine, pancreas, liver, cervix, ovary, kidneys and blood. To reduce the risk of getting cancer the indication is not to smoke or stop immediately if it has already started.
Even the food we consume can become an ally for prevention, if together we reduce other risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Some types of cancer – those that involve the esophagus, stomach and intestines – are more sensitive to the effects of nutrition.
However, healthy nutrition alone is not enough. It is important to combine a varied and balanced diet with regular physical activity – at least 30 minutes of walking a day – which contributes to reducing the risk of colon and endometrial cancer, as well as influencing breast cancer prevention.