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Soaps and Breast Cancer: Five Powerful Storylines


October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of all the brave people who have been diagnosed with this disease, as well as their loved ones,  I wanted to take some time to remember some of daytime's most memorable breast cancer storylines. Take a look after the jump.

In 1994, General Hospital's fiery physician Dr. Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson) was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the gut wrenching scenes above Monica's then-husband and sparring partner Dr. Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) helps her come to terms with the fact that it's time to tell their sons, AJ and Jason (a young Steve Burton, seen in the clip),  that their mother was ill.

In the early 90's, Guidng Light's dutiful nurse Lillian Raines (Tina Sloan)  was told by her doctor that a mass had indeed been discovered in her breast. Lillian ultimately sought treatment from Dr. Ed Bauer (Peter Simon) her longterm co-worker and husband of her best friend Maureen "Mo" Bauer (Ellen Parker). Lillian survived her battle with breast cancer, but her affair with Ed inadvertently cost Mo her life, as she was killed in a car accident after racing off after discovering Ed and Lillian's affair.

Victoria Lord (Erika Slezak) has gone through a lot during the character's 40-plus years on daytime, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), time travel, living in a secret city under the ground, but it's when One Life to Live's most beloved heroine gets the chance to sink her teeth into a real life ordeal that fans, critics and Daytime Emmy voters alike stand up and cheer. In 2001, that chance was afforded when Viki was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the above scene, Viki realizes her hair is starting to fall out, during a confrontation with her n'er-do-well little brother Todd (then played by Roger Howarth). After watching the clip, even a Team Trevor member like moi can't help but admit Slezak and Howarth had some amazing chemistry.

Guiding Light'
s Reva Shayne (Kim Zimmer) was the ultimate sex bomb in her 80's heyday. Imagine how it must have felt for a woman who had traded on her youth, sexuality and a big head of teased hair, to face the possibility of not only losing her locks and breasts, but her life. That's what our Reva Darlin' had to live through when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the late 2000's. While the story arc had an asinine subplot that saw Reva all but hand her one true love Josh-"ua" Lewis (Robert  Newman) over to her sister Cassie (Nicole Forester),  Zimmer managed to do what she always does and turn shhh into sugar. Watch the clip above where Reva's son Jonathan (Tom Pelphrey) shaves his Mama's head.

Generally on daytime breast cancer storylines are written for women over the age of 40, keeping with real life statistics that older women are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, however in 2003 General Hospital addressed the fact that younger women who have a family history with the disease are also at risk, when Alan and Monica's adopted daughter Emily (Natalia Livingston) found out she had breast cancer. Like her biological mother Paige, whom Monica had befriended during her own breast cancer struggle, Emily had to endure the devastating disease, all the while caught in a soapy love triangle between her girlhood crush, Nikolas Cassadine (Tyler Christopher) and her then lover Zander Smith (Chad Brannon). This storyline, like all good soap opera storylines, showcase that you can both entertain and inform your audience at the same time. For more information on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month click here.

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