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Lifetime Networks and SHAPE Magazine's Remarkable Women

In the fight against breast cancer, knowledge really is power. That’s why these women have made it their mission to teach others about the disease—making us all a little wiser and healthier. Each one of these women, whether they are breast cancer survivors themselves or have lost someone to cancer, want to educate women about early detection and to make sure women receive proper care. See what makes them so remarkable. Then lend a hand yourself. SHAPE, with the help of Lifetime, is asking you to sign a petition to help pass the bipartisan Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act. This would end the practice of so-called "drive-through" mastectomies when women are forced out of the hospital only hours after invasive breast cancer surgery. Sign the petition here.

Namrata Singh Gujral

Namrata Singh Gujral, an Indo-American actress and producer of Sikh faith, is also a breast cancer survivor and advocate who makes her directorial debut with 1 a Minute. Namrata was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age in 2008. With 1 a Minute, she hopes to bring to light, the seriousness and urgency of this disease.

In the acting field, Namrata is the first actress to work in high profile Hollywood and Bollywood projects both in her first year in the industry. Although Namrata's upcoming projects include lead roles in Bollywood's 5 WEDDINGS and TIE THAT BINDS (both due for release in 2011), the role she has garnered rave reviews for, is her portrayal of "Shelley" in the WARNER BROTHERS release, AMERICANIZING SHELLEY, a romantic comedy currently wrapping its global run. Honors for this role range from critical reviews for her performance by Variety and Michael Medved to awards including "Best Female Actor" at CTFF 2008 (shared with Stephen Baldwin).

Namrata also made her singing debut in 2008 with DANCIN' IN THE CLOUDS, a never-been-done-before "Country Rock" meets "Bollywood" style duet, which is being included in the Guinness Book of Records. She cut this single with country star Steve Azar ("Waitin' on Joe" w/ Morgan Freeman) and with this hit single (currently playing on VH1, CMT and MTV), Namrata became the first Eastern artist to make it to CMT and for placing an Eastern language (Hindi) in Country Music for the first time in history!

A 1998 graduate from the University of West Florida, Namrata was born in India, but left at an early age. She moved to Hollywood in 2001 from Florida and was quickly "taft-hartleyed" into the Screen Actors Guild after booking the recurring role of "Fari Bin Ghori" on CBS's THE AGENCY, produced by Wolfgang Peterson ("The Perfect Storm"). This was followed rapidly by castings as "Nurse Kathy", a five year stint, on NBC's PASSIONS (2001-2005) and the role of "Renu Mathur" in Bollywood blockbuster KAANTE with stalwarts Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt.

From the role of Pakistani-American "Saira Ahmed" in CBS's FAMILY LAW (for which Namrata, along with co-stars Tony Danza and Kathleen Quinlan, were Columbia Tristar's official nomination for EMMY AWARDS 2002) to playing the lead role of German-Samoan beauty, Anna Kraus in THE SHARK HUNTER, where she co-starred with Yancy Arias (King Pins; Miss Saigon), Namrata has portrayed a variety of ethnicities in film, television and theater. Namrata's other credits include ABC's DRAGNET, GENERAL HOSPITAL and more. In 2003, Namrata was invited to play a cameo in Dreamwork's HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG. Although the role was small, Namrata found this an opportunity to work with Ben Kingsley and accepted the role in this Oscar winning feature. She also featured in the Denzel Washington starrer TRAINING DAY. Namrata has also lent her voice to the role of "Jaya Kushala", a principal character in Microsoft's X-BOX game QUANTUM REDSHIFT and played principal roles in various commercials for Toyota, Cox and more.

Namrata also serves as President of UniGlobe Entertainment, making her the first among her generation of South Asian-Americans in Hollywood, to successfully affiliate her company with a major Hollywood Studio (WB). She hopes to use her production company's platform to harness the entertainment industry in the fight against cancer.

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Meredith Gray

Meredith Gray was 49 years old when she received a second diagnosis of breast cancer. An annual mammogram had revealed abnormalities in her left breast. She would learn that she had the aggressive HER2+ form of the disease—and no way to pay for treatment.

Three years earlier, Meredith had been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ in her right breast. Following a lumpectomy, she underwent eight weeks of radiation therapy and walked away from the experience feeling cured, thankful, and fortunate.

This time, the situation was different. Her new insurance carrier had required that she waive her right to make any cancer-related claims for an "indeterminable future" because of her pre-existing condition—breast cancer. She also faced a difficult decision. Without a double mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, the chance that her cancer would metastasize was significant. Within weeks, surgeons amputated both her breasts and began reconstruction.

Meredith's mother died of pancreatic cancer at age 53. Meredith was 15 years old. Fear and secrecy surrounded her mother's diagnosis. No one was willing to discuss the "C-word." No one helped her understand what her mother was experiencing. No one helped her understand what had happened to her family. Years later, she realized that many women don't know what to expect when they receive the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer and decided to share her journey in the most intimate way she could. She decided to get naked—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Frustrated by her personal dilemma with health insurance while confronting a life-threatening diagnosis, Meredith sought a documentary filmmaker to chronicle her battle not only with the disease but also with the failure of the American health care system to provide adequate help for the hundreds of thousands of women who have had, have, or will have breast cancer. Just three weeks after the lumpectomy, award-winning producer Roynn Lisa Simmons started shooting Naked.

After Meredith's first diagnosis, she began to volunteer for breast cancer causes in Connecticut. In addition to mentoring newly diagnosed women, Meredith writes magazine and newspaper articles profiling breast cancer survivors and serves on fund-raising committees for breast cancer organizations. After her insurance provider twice refused to pay more than a fraction of the cost of her reconstructive surgery, Meredith enlisted the support of Connecticut Governor Jody Rell (also a breast cancer survivor), and the provider reversed its decision. She has also corresponded with Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman James Himes on health care reform issues.

Collaborating with photographer Claudia Hehr, Meredith is finishing the memoir of her most recent battle with breast cancer. Also titled Naked, the book is a narrative of her 12-month journey accompanied by powerful images of her body as it changed, as she lost her breasts, her hair, her sense that she could depend on her body.

In the world of fashion, where Meredith has spent her career, body image is everything. She is determined to break down the stereotype of the "perfect body" and wants all women to understand that the loss of a breast or breasts does not make them less than whole. She hopes both the documentary and the book will help women discover the true meaning of beauty—the beauty found deep within. 

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Dr. Susan Love

Susan M Love, MD, MBA has dedicated her professional life to the eradication of breast cancer. As President of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, she oversees an active research program centered on breast cancer cause and prevention. She is also a Clinical Professor of Surgery at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

Her reputation as an activist comes from her role as one of the "founding mothers" of the breast cancer advocacy movement in the early 1990's by being one of the founders of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC). She continues this work by serving on the boards of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and Young Survival Coalition. She served on the National Cancer Advisory Board from 1998-2004 as an appointment of President Clinton.

Dr. Susan Love is best known as a trusted guide to women worldwide through her books and the Foundation website. The completely revised fourth edition of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book termed "the bible for women with breast cancer" by The New York Times; was released October 2005, and the 5th edition will be coming out in 2010. It has been translated into German, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and Hebrew. Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book, first published in 1998 and revised in 2003, was one of the first to sound the alarm against the long term use of postmenopausal hormones and Live a Little (Crown 2009) encourages women to be healthy without driving yourself crazy.

A true visionary, Susan Love's most recent project, the Love/Avon Army of Women, is a creative Internet solution to partner women and scientists in order to accelerate basic translational research. Thanks to a generous grant from the Avon Foundation for Women, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation launched the Army of Women campaign in October 2008. The campaign is recruiting one million women who are willing to consider participating in research to find the cause and prevention of breast cancer. This novel initiative will move research from animals to women, democratizing the scientific process.

Dr. Love received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York, did her surgical training at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. She founded the Faulkner Breast Center in Boston and the Revlon UCLA Breast Center in Los Angeles. She has a business degree from the Executive MBA program at UCLA's Anderson School. In 1996 she retired from the active practice of surgery, to dedicate her time to the urgent pursuit of finding the cause and prevention of breast cancer. The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, a 501 (c ) 3 non-profit breast cancer foundation has over $4 million dollars in peer reviewed grants and is pioneering novel techniques to identify young women at risk for breast cancer as well as local therapy directly into the milk ducts to prevent breast cancer.

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Geri Bush

Geri Barish has been at the forefront of the battle against breast cancer on Long Island since 1988, and has earned the distinction of being New York State's preeminent breast cancer activist.

In 1996, Geri was awarded the 1st Annual New York State Innovation in Breast Cancer Early Detection and Research Award. Governor and Mrs. Pataki at the Executive Mansion in Albany, and numerous groups and organizations in the local community have honored her. One of her more recent honors was to be included in a short list of potential candidates to fill the State Senate seat left vacant by the death of her dear and beloved friend, Norman J. Levy.   Geri is no stranger to the pain and torment of cancer: she is a breast cancer victim and survivor. Her son, Michael, lost his life at a young age of 25 from complications of Hodgkin's Disease. Geri promised Michael that she would dedicate her life to finding the causes and cures for cancer, and she has done so to this day. When Geri visited the White House she told President Clinton that her son had always wanted to see the house-he took the small picture geri brought with her and put it in his pocket-he then said "now he will always be here." Geri will never forget the chill she got—Senator Clinton visited the Hewlett House and cut the Pink Ribbon to open the Pathway of Hope—what a thrill for everyone.  

As President of "1 in 9", Geri spearheaded negotiations of The New York State's Pesticide Registry Law, which created an accessible database to determine whether there is a relationship between pesticide use and breast cancer. In March 1997, she spoke in Albany for the bipartisan "Mastectomy Bill", which passed in both the Senate and Assembly. Significantly, Geri stood side by side with Senator Alfonse D'Amato, New York State Senator Joseph Bruno, Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, Mrs. Libby Pataki and the entire delegation to announce the passing of the Bill. On March 29, 1997, Governor and Mrs. Pataki came to the State Supreme Court in Mineola to sign the Bill into law.  

Her appointment as Executive Director of Hewlett House fulfills a dream and vision Geri had when she began her own struggle with breast cancer. Geri vowed a long time ago, that given the opportunity, no one would have to go through what she did: to battle this dreadful disease alone. Hewlett House is a multi-purpose, professionally staffed facility in a home-like setting, for cancer victims and their family and friends. It is a central place offering information, counseling and meetings; where a pot of coffee is always on the stove and a listening ear available. As Executive Director, Geri oversees the entire operation of Hewlett House, the fundraising efforts and volunteers.  

Geri's dedication and perseverance has resulted in increased national funding, the implementation and overseeing of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, which is the first scientific symposium held on Long Island to determine whether there was a need for a separate Long Island study of breast cancer; and the establishment of the ongoing Michael Scott Barish Human Cancer Grant at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the research into genetic mutations that could cause breast cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. In March 1997, Dr. Michael Wigler, the scientist supported by that grant, announced the discovery of the breast cancer gene, P-TEN. To date, 1 in 9 has donated almost $1 million dollars!

Geri is a member of the National Action Plan Personal Risk Factors Committee, the Governor's Health Task Force, the Ad-Hoc Committee of Cornell University and the Department of Environmental Conservation on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors, and the American Cancer Society's "Reach To Recovery" Volunteers. She has met personally with President and Mrs. Clinton and has been instrumental in persuading United States Senator D'Amato, NY State Senator Joseph Bruno, Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, to throw their full weight into Long Island's battle against breast cancer.  

In 1997, Geri was the Suffolk County Women's Bar Association and Women and the Law Committee honoree. She has been honored by the Sierra Club of Long Island as "Environmentalist of the Year", received the Long Island Community Award from the Nurses Society of Long Island, the "Distinguished Service Award" from the League of Women's Voters, and the Town of Hempstead's "Pathfinder Award", to name a few of the many honors bestowed upon her.  

In 1993, Geri and her husband (wheel chair bound) and their son Eric traveled to Las Vegas for a Computer Convention and combined vacation. While there, they received a phone call that their home had burned down-Geri just made some phone, had her friends waiting at the airport with warm clothes and a wheel chair. They checked into a hotel and Geri proceeded to find a home handicapped accessible that they could rent and resumed putting their lives back in order. They lost everything, but luckily Geri found some pictures to treasure.  

Geri lives in Baldwin, New York with her husband Alan, her son Eric, and faithful dog, Sam.

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Christine Feldman

Despite two battles with breast cancer, 15 surgeries and only 60 percent lung capacity, Christine Feldman has completed a marathon and five triathlons. She says, "Exercise is my refuge."

In 2002, Christine was training for a marathon to lose baby weight after her second pregnancy. At the time she was a healthy 34-year-old with a two-year-old and an 11-month old, not expecting at all how her life would suddenly change. While she was showering, she found a lump in her breast. Tests confirmed it as Stage II HER2-positive breast cancer, a more aggressive form. Christine had massive reconstruction surgery to repair her right shoulder, breast, and arm. She also received chemotherapy and chose to wear her bald head with pride. She even used her creative energy as a career graphic designer to allow her children to finger paint the blank canvas of her scalp and then used the photographs (see attached) for thank you cards to those her supported her through the illness.

As she was just beginning to see the light of day, she detected another lump in October 2005 on her scar tissue. A biopsy revealed her cancer had returned and she would need radiation. Complications due to the radiation caused a build-up of fluid in her lung, which caused her lung to collapse reducing its capacity to 60 percent. However, this did not slow Christine down. Due to her rigorous exercise routine, her lung capacity has increased to 85 percent—her doctor says this is remarkable! She says, "I feel the healthiest when I am exercising ... it is when my body feels most alive."

Christine now has been married for 15 years, has two children (ages 9 and 11) and receives Herceptin treatment for her breast cancer every three weeks, and probably will for the rest of her life. Christine says she feels like she has reclaimed "her ignorance to her mortality" and the most remarkable thing about competing in triathlons is the transformation in identity that she experienced when her kids could see her on race day as "mommy the triathlete" instead of "mommy the cancer patient."

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