Meet Lili Sohn for Pink October

Continue to love your body, don't feel guilty or remorseful, dare to follow your dreams.

lili sohn

Breast cancer is most talked about in October, because it's Pink October. But breast cancer isn't all pink, and it's not just breast cancer. It's a year-round reflex to get tested, and it can save lives. Pink October(renamed Pink Ribbon in 2021) is an annual breast cancer awareness campaign, which runs from October 1 to October 31. Every year, many women are affected by breast cancer. Although breast cancer most often develops around the age of 60, 10% of cases occur in women under the age of 35. According to cancerdusein.orgit is estimated that one woman in eight is affected. Pink October is there to make screening a reflex. It enables various abnormalities to be detected at an early stage, so that action can be taken quickly to limit the onset of symptoms. Breast cancer detected early can be cured in 90% of cases, so if you haven't already done so, check it out and take a moment for yourself, to confirm that all is well. Frequent breast self-examination, regular check-ups with a doctor, with palpation possibly supplemented by ultrasound or mammography, can be easily achieved.

We met with Lili Sohnwho was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. We can tell you that Lili is a warrior. Breast cancer is a daily battle, and it was hers. Today, she tells us her story, what she went through with a great dose of humor and self-deprecation, all the things that made her feel good when she needed them, the strength the disease gave her to realize her dreams, and the actions needed to prevent this cancer.

How are you?

I'm doing great, thank you. The back-to-school whirlwind has passed and I've got some great projects in the pipeline. At the moment, I'm doing a lot of travelling to promote my comic book (PARTIR sur les chemins de Compostelle) and meeting lots of great people. As I do every autumn, I've taken up sport again, and for the moment I'm sticking to it. I'm pretty proud of myself! I've also weighed myself (I don't know what came over me) and I clearly haven't lost any of my pregnancy kilos.

"So I work at fucking myself up and loving this body that made a human. It's not easy, it's a daily task."


Can you tell me a little more about yourself and your ordeal with cancer?

My name is Lili, I'm 38 and I live in Marseille with my partner, my 2 children and my cat. I'm a comic book author and documentary filmmaker. Oh, and also, I had breast cancer... Han! almost 10 years ago. I was 29 and living in Montreal when I was diagnosed with cancer in my right breast. The tumor was removed (+ a nipple) and I had chemo. Then I found out it was genetic (but yes, you know like Angelina Jolie) so I made the choice to remove both my breasts (and had prostheses put in their place). I can sum it up in 2 sentences, but as you can imagine, it was pretty complicated.

How did you find out you had breast cancer?

I had a retracted nipple and as my mother always told me to be careful with my breasts, I went for a check-up. The first time, the doctor didn't detect anything. The second time neither, but out of a sense of conscience she sent me for an ultrasound. It was when the person doing the examination said to me: "How long have you felt this lump? that I knew something was wrong.

How is this cancer different from others?

Ha, good question! I haven't had any other cancers, so I can't really compare. But maybe breast cancer touches a symbol of femininity. For me, it was the removal of these attributes that triggered my feminist reflections.

Am I still a woman if my breasts are removed?

Without suspense, I can tell you that I'm still a woman. And even if other attributes were taken away from me, I'd still be a woman, as long as I decided to be one. And it has to be said that patriarchy doesn't go away when you're a sick woman. The injunctions to be beautiful, the mental burden and the infantilization (particularly on the part of the medical profession) don't go away, and it's a bit of a double whammy.

How did you cope with the illness?

I hadn't decided to be sick, so I decided to try to live it joyfully. I tried to make it as painless as possible. So I dressed up, invited my friends to come with me to chemo and made lots of jokes.

What did you do to recharge your batteries when you felt the need?

To cope with this ordeal, I created a comic blog just a few days after my diagnosis. In it, I shared with humor and transparency my state of mind according to the episodes of my illness: the announcement of my diagnosis, my treatments, my major operation, my physical changes... It was a real therapy! And it was also a way of realizing that I wasn't alone, as I received tons of messages from all over the world. In fact, the blog was so successful that I was published (La guerre des tétons, Michel Lafon).

Is there a before and after? If so, which one?

Yes, I've realized that I'm not immortal. And that changes a lot of things. In particular, it enabled me to get into comics. But it also put a sword of Damocles over my head. I know this disease could come back. And now I know how horrible it is.

Has the disease changed your vision of femininity? Has your beauty/well-being routine changed before/during/after?

First, I learned to look at myself in the mirror, to watch the changes that were happening to me. First I stopped wearing make-up and got used to my natural face, with all its flaws. And then I learned to draw on my eyebrows because I really missed them, and to give myself a healthy glow because some days I'd scare myself a bit. I'm happy to be considered socially as a woman, to be able to use make-up (although gender boundaries are tending to relax on this point). Make-up really saved my spirits! Today, I hardly ever wear make-up (apart from a little red for special occasions) and I'm very careful about what I put on my skin. What preventive measures can you take? Getting to know your body and noticing the slightest change, trusting yourself, putting your feelings on the same level as medical knowledge, palpating your breasts in the shower.

What advice would you give to those caring for a cancer patient?

I believe in simply telling people you love them, with a little message or emoji. Without expecting or asking for anything in return. And above all, don't say "it's not serious, it'll pass". "Today, it's well cared for", "hair grows back"...

If you had to say one word to the people who are currently living through the ordeal you went through and overcame, what would it be?

"One day at a time. That's what a nurse said to me when I was diagnosed. She followed me through the treatments and helped me a lot.

Your proudest achievement?

Becoming a comic book author. Yes, because I used to be a graphic designer. I dreamed of doing comics, but I never dared show what I was doing. Cancer was my trigger. In a way, it uninhibited me. I showed my drawings without any hang-ups, because I might die anyway...

"Today, I try to feel less guilty, have less remorse and be more daring!"

 lili sohn octobre rose