Breast Cancer Awareness Womanista of the Week: Sonia Kashuk

(Photo: Richard Burbridge)

Award-winning makeup artist Sonia Kashuk is a stunning powerhouse in the beauty industry with celebrity clients including Cindy Crawford. She is a proud mother, wife and has an incredibly successful line with Target® Corp (NYSE:TGT). Her line with Target includes affordable and luxurious beauty and skincare with a very special product available that will benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF) for the ninth straight Year.

Sonia is not just lending her name to a worthy cause, she is and has been helping to lead the cause. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 47 and with a family history of breast cancer, she knew it would be a when diagnosis for her. Through her personal fight and her experience with other survivors, Sonia explains why awareness, aggressive actions and having no fear are essential to the fight against breast cancer.

Womanista:

How Can We Support Breast Cancer Awareness, especially as a light is shone this October?

Sonia Kashuk:

The fight against breast cancer goes on every single day - beyond October - and we cannot lose site of it being an everyday fight. The Proudly Pink Five-Piece Purse Brush Set available at Target is being offered year-round and 15% of each sale will benefit BCRF. This is a reminder to support the cause 365 days a year. When Target gave me the platform on beauty, I was able to take that opportunity to educate women and bring light to organizations such as BCRF and Cancer and Careers. Cancer and Careers is a program that helps women get through the word: cancer. [in speaking with survivors] their first question is always: Am I going to die? Their second question: Am I going to be able to work? Cancer and Careers helps not just with the financial aspect of going to work, the emotional aspect as well. Taking your mind off what is happening and giving women something else to focus on. Organizations need more than just monetary donations, you can support them in other ways. Stuffing envelopes is philanthropic, use your social media accounts to be aware and reach the online audience. We have such a platform with social media to be able to share and bring awareness.

Womanista:

How did you first hear about Cancer and Careers and what made you want to become more involved?

Sonia Kashuk:

I received an achievement award in 2003 from Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) and Carlotta Jacobson, while I was still new on the beauty scene. Cancer and Careers was the beneficiary organization and later when I was diagnosed, Carlotta asked that I become more involved. It has become one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.

Womanista:

With a family history of breast cancer, was it something that was in the back of your mind that you too might be diagnosed?

Sonia Kashuk:

My grandmother passed away from breast cancer at 52, my cousin and mother both are breast cancer survivors and it was always a matter of when not if, for me. I was diligent with screenings, mammograms and biopsies starting in my 30s. I had made the decision to remove all breast cancer tissue away which would reduce my cancer likelihood to a low percentage when during my final consult with my doctor we found that there was something more advanced already going on. I reached out to her gynecologist and was referred to Sloan kettering and enrolled in a high surveillance program. It was like Russion Roulette waiting for results each time and it made me want to take more control.

Womanista:

How did you take control of your situation and how did you make the decision to have the controversial bilateral mastectomy?

Sonia Kashuk:

I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy and have been asked over the years why, isn't it risky, long healing time? How can you be too aggressive with cancer? In life you deal with what comes before you, why wouldn’t you with your health? I had seen alternative procedures not work for others and I wanted to be off the emotional rollarcoaster I had been on for over 15 years. The decision to have the surgery was a great peace of mind. You need to take control of the situation especially if there is family history. My daughter Sadie will have screenings in her 20s. She has a family history and will take control. The biggest thing that happens is fear. We as women are anticipating negative responses rather than dealing with it. Be proactive, don’t be afraid.

Womanista:

What advice to you have for women to prevent breast cancer and those that might be facing this disease?

Sonia Kashuk:

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Stay aware. I say this to Sadie and all the younger readers: do self exams. The older women are being screened, but we hear one to many times about younger girls not being screened. Don’t let fear get in your way of anything getting it checked out. I talk to Sadie about that, it’s scary if you feel something on your body that should not be there, but you need to be aware. Everything is heightened in October and we need to be aware year-round. if you feel something that is not right, check it out. Don’t let your mind and fear get the best of you.

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