Seven years ago, Latin superstar Adamari López was just returning home to Miami from Mexico when she discovered a lump in her breast. “I had never felt something like that before,” she recalls. But, at only 33, and with not a hint of cancer in her family, Adamari was unconcerned. So was her doctor, who reassured her that the lump would probably disappear after she got her period. But, when it didn’t, the doctor ordered a mammogram and after that a biopsy. By now, Adamari was worried but, she says, “I did my best to banish any negative thoughts from my mind.” Still, because she knew she’d be away working in Argentina when the biopsy report came back, she arranged for her sister in Miami to receive the call and relay it to her other sister who was on the set with her in Argentina. Finally, when that call did come, instead of hearing customary chatter, “ My sister got very quiet,” says Adamari.
“I had kept thinking everything would be okay, so I was shocked. Since I was in a public place, I couldn’t let on that I was about to cry, or I’d gotten any news that had affected me at all, so we went to the car. ‘Please tell me now what is going on,’ I said, and my sister told me. I tried to stay calm and not express what I felt, but I allowed myself to cry later that night,” Adamari recalls.
That brief crying spell was all that Adamari allowed herself, and then her practical nature took over. After all, this is a Puerto Rican native who became a star at the age of six, and utilizing not only her looks and talent but also her intelligence propelled herself into a career as a model, dancer and TV host in addition to her roles in such top–rated novelas as Camila and Amigas y Rivales. So, as soon as she had digested the news, Adamari says, “I asked my doctor, ‘What do we need to do for me to become healthy again?’”
The year that followed was an arduous one for Adamari, who is considered among one of the world’s most beautiful women. A mastectomy and reconstructive surgery followed, as well as radiation and chemotherapy. She lost not only her breast but her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes as well. But, in 2006, she was declared to be cancer–free. That year, she was also named one of People en Español’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” This was gratifying to her in a way that perhaps it would not have been a year before, because by 2006, Adamari was also on her way to assuming a new role, that of a champion for women’s breast health.
The night that Adamari cried, she also dried her tears and headed to her computer to research breast cancer. She came upon the website for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, because “they had the only information I could find in Spanish.” Later on, she reached out to the organization with her story, and in 2008, she was named the Hispanic spokesperson for the Yoplait Lids for Life campaign, which has, over the past 13 years, raised $30 million for the Komen foundation.
Adamari is passionate about breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in Hispanic women. Hispanic women are more likely to die from it than are white women, most probably because they are less likely to get screening mammograms or follow up on abnormal test results.
“I have heard that Latina women are sometimes shy about going to the doctor or doing breast self–exams, but we cannot allow this to be. We must do everything we can to protect ourselves and our families from getting this disease,” Adamari says. “You need to tell all of the women in your family to go and check yourself, and if something is wrong, you must follow up and receive treatment. This is the reality; It doesn’t matter if you are white, Hispanic, black or Asian. You need to know your body, and you need to take care of it,” she added.
This month, Adamari is traveling across the U.S. on behalf of the Yoplait campaign to spread awareness and talk about the campaign. Yoplait donates ten cents to the Komen foundation every time a pink–lid from the special yogurt container is redeemed, up to $2 million a year. The lids can be either mailed back or, for the first time, redeemed online. “I am so delighted to be part of this awesome campaign,” says Adamari.
Adamari also wants women everywhere to know that there is a good life awaiting them, even after breast cancer treatment. Adamari follows a healthy diet, which includes consuming a lot of vegetables, water and yogurt (of course) and getting daily exercise and “lots of smiles, every day.” “I’m doing very well. I go to the doctor every six months, and my check–ups are okay. I’m very happy to be at work, but being involved in traveling on behalf of the breast cancer campaign makes me the happiest, because it allows me to be in touch with the women I meet. I love to know their stories, have my picture taken with them and encourage them, because being healthy is the most important thing there is.”
By Charlotte Libov