The way Julia Louis-Dreyfus is fighting her cancer with humor can help women everywhere

She documenting her journey with a mission in mind


Rachel Leah
October 20, 2017 5:42PM (UTC)

After actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer last month, the "Veep" star continues to document her journey publicly.

In a new Instagram post Thursday, she shared that she had just undergone a second round of chemotherapy with a photo of herself hooded, with sunglasses, a drawn on mustache and a comically stern and tightlipped stare very much in the mold of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

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Louis-Dreyfus also quoted Katy Perry's "Roar," perhaps signifying her soundtrack of choice as she takes on cancer. The caption in full read: "Chemo #2: finito. We are NOT fucking around here. 'I’ve got the eye of the tiger. The Fighter dancing through the fire cuz I am a champion and your’re going to hear me ROAR.' Thanks to @mrtonyhale & @timothycsimons & @katyperry for their hilarious and loving inspiration."

Last month, Louis-Dreyfus took to social media to first disclose the news of her diagnosis. "1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today I'm the one," she shared to Twitter. Moving the pronouncement beyond herself, she added, "The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality."

It was an important point given the alarming statistics. As Salon reported last month:

According to a study released by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation late last year, 11 percent (over one in 10) of women in the United States do not have health insurance. The American Cancer Society estimated that over 257,000 U.S. women will receive a breast-cancer diagnosis in 2017 and that over 41,000 women in the U.S. population will die from it by the year's end. The Society supports Louis-Dreyfus' claim that one in eight American women will have breast cancer at some point in their lives.

As healthcare, particularly healthcare that addresses the specific needs of women, continues to be debated in Washington, these numbers are in danger of rising. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, but has a high survival rate when caught early. Early detection, however, requires access to regular screenings.

Aside from drawing attention to the healthcare disparities among women in this country, Louis-Dreyfus is pushing forward another important narrative around breast cancer: it can be fought. Her bravery and humor in telling and documenting her journey throughout this process has the potential to inspire both lawmakers and other women fighting for their lives.

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In a time where social media often operates as a fantasy world, where Instagram posts of dinners, beautiful views and mirror pics dominate feeds, Louis-Dreyfus is showing us something beyond the "perfect" snap and a window into the lives of three million women in America.


Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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