Pictured here: Natalia Livingston (Emily, GH) with young fan at Super Soap Weekend West 2003. Photo: Disney Ent./ABC
As part of ABC Daytime's commitment to community outreach, "General Hospital" is expanding its breast cancer storyline to include real-life young women who are survivors of breast cancer. With the return of the beloved Emily Quartermaine to "General Hospital" this past year, the show has been exploring the important health issue of breast cancer in younger women. Three real-life young women who have survived breast cancer will tell their unscripted inspiring stories in episodes that will air on FRIDAY, JUNE 27 and MONDAY, JUNE 30. Additional support group scenes will air on WEDNESDAY, JULY 16.
"General Hospital" has been working closely with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in telling this story with humility and accuracy. "While it is our goal to entertain the audience with every storyline on the canvas, we hope that this particular storyline will also provide our audience with vital information about young women with breast cancer and the importance of early detection," commented Jill Farren Phelps, executive producer, "General Hospital."
Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths for women age 20 to 39, and young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer often have a more aggressive form of the disease and face unique survivorship issues. Last year the Komen Foundation launched its Young Women's Initiative, developing programs and materials specifically for this population. "Many women are still not comfortable talking about breast cancer, and young women in particular don't think breast cancer can happen to them. We hope that 'General Hospital's' sensible and responsible storyline will help bring the issue into homes, reaching young women at an early age and empowering them to adopt life-long, positive breast health habits," said Susan Braun, president and chief executive officer of the Komen Foundation.
Emily Bowen Quartermaine originally joined the Quartermaine family back in 1994 when her adoptive mother, Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson), battled breast cancer. Emily's biological mother, Paige Bowen, met Monica at a breast cancer support group and asked Monica to adopt Emily when she passed away. The character (and the original actress) left the canvas in 2002. Natalia Livingston took over the role in April 2003, as Emily returned to Port Charles with the devastating secret that she has breast cancer. Since her return, Emily has been hiding the truth from her family and friends. Not wanting her loved ones to watch her die, Emily pushes away her boyfriend, Zander Smith (Chad Brannon), and seeks comfort and support from her good friend Nikolas Cassadine (Tyler Christopher). It is Nikolas who forces Emily to fight for her life and attend the breast cancer support group featuring these brave and inspiringl women.
In the upcoming episodes, real-life breast cancer survivors Janine McMillion, Mary Petersen and Shannon Cole share their personal and powerful stories. Janine McMillion was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 29 years old and found the lump while exercising. Her doctor told her she was too young to have breast cancer and a needle biopsy and ultrasound came back negative. After a biopsy several months later, she learned the tumor was malignant and, a week later, underwent a bilateral mastectomy. Mary Petersen was diagnosed at 33 years old and found the lump in the shower. Her mammogram came back negative. She returned to the doctor knowing something was wrong, had a lumpectomy and learned that the tumor was malignant. Shannon Cole was diagnosed at 35 years old and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She taped her scenes on "General Hospital" just two days after a chemotherapy treatment. She has one treatment left.
In other storylines dedicated to socially relevant entertainment, ABC daytime has featured a drug addition storyline on "One Life to Live" and work with Habitat for Humanity on "All My Children."
Te Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is fighting to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. In addition to funding research, the Komen Foundation supports education, screening and treatment projects in communities around the world and delivers the life-saving message of early detection to millions of women and men. The first online resource of its kind, www.komen.org/bse provides step-by-step breast self-examination instruction through video animation, audio clips and written directions in both English and Spanish. Users learn the importance of early detection, correct BSE looking and feeling practices and the value of BSE as part of the Komen Foundation's recommended three-step approach to breast health. For more information, visit the Komen Foundation's Web site at www.komen.org or call its toll-free Breast Care Helpline at 1-800-I'M AWARE® (1-800-462-9273).
"General Hospital" is the highest-rated Daytime drama among the key demographic of Women 18-49, and is No. 2 season to date among female teens. In May of 2000 "General Hospital" made Daytime Emmy history as the only Daytime drama ever to receive the prestigious Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series a record seven times. The program airs MONDAY-FRIDAY from 3:00-4:00 p.m., ET/2:00-3:00 p.m., PT, on the ABC Television Network. Jill Farren Phelps is executive producer.
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