In October, the world unites for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, emphasizing global breast cancer screening and the long-lasting impact of this disease. We sit down with Katia Veronese to explore the Functional Diversity Awareness Month at Ahlstrom and the vital aspects of self-detection and community support, drawn from her journey as a breast cancer fighter and the Functional Diversity group lead at Ahlstrom.
How do you prioritize self-care and supporting colleagues in the workplace?
Taking a moment for self-care is essential. It's about doing things that bring personal joy and releasing emotions at the end of the workday, so I can approach life with a calm mind. In October, we're focused on raising awareness about Ahlstrom's Functional Diversity Resource Group, celebrating the incredible diversity within our organization. This group is committed to breaking down barriers to success, offering a safe platform for employees to share their unique life situations, situations they may not have chosen but find themselves in.
Can you tell us about a practical tip for self-care during your journey as a breast cancer fighter?
Certainly! Sport has been a vital part of my cancer journey. Almost every weekend, I participate in runs and walks with a purpose. These events allow me to contribute to a good cause while staying physically active. It's incredibly empowering. If my advice and experiences can raise awareness and inspire even one more woman to act, it would be a tremendous success!
When someone is diagnosed with any illness or cancer, how can we help as coworkers and friends?
When you discover cancer, you can have multiple reactions. In my case, I decided to share my situation with colleagues and friends, as sharing my problem was like sharing the pain. When interacting with people who are discovered to have cancer, you should listen, care, and hug… Sometimes, we do not need too many words but just a big hug presents a huge message that no one is alone in this journey!
Women of all ages are now affected by breast cancer. How can we advocate for our health and ourselves when we visit the doctor?
Indeed, it is very important to have an open dialogue with our doctor and to ensure we have a well-defined calendar for our routine checks. It's important not to compromise our health while focusing on day-to-day activities. Our life has value.
How do you recommend getting second opinions?
A second opinion is always necessary, as this is about our life, and we must completely trust the treatments offered. I strongly recommend not to start surfing the internet to find information and statistics of survivors as we are all different, and each case is personal.
Finally, Early detection is key. What advice do you have?
From my experience, I can confirm that prevention is critical. We should follow routine checks based on continuous dialogue with the doctor of reference. On the other side, I also like to underline the importance of active listening to any signal that our body gives or any "different feeling" you have. This is what happened to me. Thanks to a "feeling," I anticipated my routine check, and my cancer was found.
According to IARC – WHO, since 2020, female breast cancer has become the most commonly diagnosed cancer type globally: about 2.26 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Some brave fighters also face challenges when returning to work.
Ahlstrom is a global company, and the primary driver of innovation and success for us springs from our diverse community. Ahlstrom aims to be an engaging and safe place to work, with diverse teams. In 2023, we are expanding our work by launching DEI (Diversity-Equity-Inclusion) resource groups for different diversity dimensions to ensure multilevel progress. We will become more resilient as a company when we Care for each other and grow as One Team.