“It was a couple years ago,” Longoria told PEOPLE at the Kiss This 4MBC launch event in New York City. “I never said anything [at the time] because it was a private thing. It was my special needs sister too so she had a hard enough life as it is.”
“She got it early, stage 1, mammogram. We were lucky,” Longoria continued. “But one in three women who get breast cancer get metastatic [breast cancer], where it spreads throughout the body.”
When asked why she had decided to start talking about her sister’s history with cancer now, Longoria replied, “I haven’t spoken about my sister on purpose and then when this campaign came up I felt like, you know what, I’m literate on the breast cancer subject and I didn’t even know about metastatic breast cancer.”
“So I thought, how many people don’t know about this? And if I have a platform that can help women learn about this, if I have a platform that can help raise funds to find a cure for it, that’s even better,” Longoria added.
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“It’s definitely important because it’s the least fielded, terminal cancer,” Longoria continued. “We’ve had so many advances in preventative and early stage and that’s great because there’s nothing better than stage zero. But these women are stage four and they usually have a 2 year life expectancy. And there is no cure so these are the women in most need.”
When asked about what advice she had for women who wanted more info about metastatic breast cancer, Longoria said to put themselves first for once.
“Women are horrible at putting themselves first,” Longoria said. “And the thing that suffers is your health.”
“So I would encourage every woman that comes here to be their own advocate,” she added. “because you gotta insist on that test or insist on that mammogram — insist on that extra step. And don’t take no for an answer when it comes to your own health. That’s a general life thing, not just health. It’s the airplane thing, put your own mask on before helping others.”
Longoria has previously called her sister Liza “her hero.”
“She was my hero growing up,” Longoria told Parade in 2007. “It was a blessing to watch her overcome every obstacle – tying her shoes, putting on a shirt, getting out the front door. And yet she still had a job and would come home on the bus by herself and help with dinner. You could only imagine the hurdles she encountered every minute of the day.”
She even said her sister helped her career in some ways. “Liza was a role model to get me ready for life in Hollywood,” Longoria continued. “You don’t take health for granted. You don’t take life for granted. It seems so insignificant to go, ‘Darn it, I didn’t get that movie role,’ or, ‘Darn it, so-and-so is wearing the same dress as me to the Emmys.’ ”
Eva Longoria has teamed up with Novartis and the Kiss This 4MBC campaign. For every boomerang and selfie posted with #kissthis4mbc Novartis will donate $10 to metastatic breast cancer research. More information can be found at kissthis4mbc.com.