Thursday, September 30, 2010

When it comes to fighting women's cancers, Miley and Tish Cyrus say, 'We're all in!'

When it comes to talking to your kids and teens about the "c" word, you can never start too young, says Tish Cyrus, mom to mega superstar Miley.

"My dad passed away when I was 19 from throat cancer and later my grandmother from ovarian cancer. That really affected me in huge way," Cyrus says. "It's scary when you have girls, and you hear how many women of all ages, including the young, are affected by cancer every year."

When it comes to the numbers, Cyrus is right. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 290,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast and gynecologic cancers, and more than 67,000 women will die from these cancers. Cyrus' remedy?

"You cannot be overly cautious. I've been very open with my girls (Brandi, Miley and Noah) on how cancer doesn't just happen when you're 50," says Cyrus. "Even though it hasn't been their favorite thing, Brandi and Miley have both been to doctor and had their female checkups."

But Cyrus has taken a step further. She and daughter Miley have teamed up with City of Hope's "All In Week," running Sept. 23 through Oct. 1, to spread this awareness to all mothers and young women.

I recently caught up with Cyrus to learn more about their commitment to this cause.

Kindness: When did you and Miley first get involved with City of Hope?

Tish Cyrus: City of Hope has been such a special part of our lives. Miley and I first got involved a little over three years ago when we toured their facilities. This, along with children's cancer, was something that Miley was really passionate about. It's so devastating to see how many people are affected by cancer every year.

One of the first things Miley did with City of Hope was to team up with Disney on their "The Concert for Hope," a concert at the Gibson Amphitheatre [at Universal City, Cali.] with the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato where for each ticket sold, $1 was given to City of Hope. I believe she raised over a $1 million through that effort. We've been so blessed, and wanted to find ways to give back.

Kindness: You mentioned the importance of early checkups for teens. What else do you recommend for parents when comes to educating kids and teens about cancer prevention?

Cyrus: It has a lot to do with how much time you spend with your kids. I try to encourage good nutrition and exercise habits by example, so I do a lot of things together with all three girls. With Miley, there are so many weekend nights we stay home and do fitness videos together. We always end up rolling on the floor laughing at my funny dance moves. We tend to have more fun doing things like that than a dinner and movie. We also ride bikes all the time. Brandi and I hike with the dogs a lot. It's also huge to talk about nutrition. I caught Noah trying to order pizza at 10 p.m. last night, so we talked this morning about nutrition and how it's important to have balance.

Kindness: In addition to her work with City of Hope, Miley has also been involved in encouraging other young adults. Tell us more about that.

Cyrus: A lot of kids may think, 'Oh, I'm so young. There is nothing I can do to make a difference.' That's not true, and Miley is a great example of that. Miley has always believed that if we all do something small, you can make a huge difference. People don't know how much she does because, for her, it's not about the publicity. When visiting a children's hospital at home in Tennessee or being involved with City of Hope's "All In Week", it's about getting out to spread the message, to know the kids, being in that moment and hour.

Also, teens can make a huge difference when comes to setting an example for young kids. That's especially been the case with our youngest, Noah, who's 10. She looks up to Brandi and Miley and the work they're doing to support City of Hope. In fact, she's planning to go to Haiti after Christmas for a mission trip.

Kindness: Who would you say most inspires Miley's efforts to make a difference?

Cyrus: Her dad [Billy Ray]. In the early 90s when he was touring, we'd do 290 show in 350 days, and I never remember one show when he didn't spend time with special needs kids, meeting and greeting them after the show. You could just see in their faces the difference that it made in their lives. It made him so happy, too. He'd also give all the gifts he'd been given at each show to local children's hospitals, even if he had to drop them off at midnight! Miley was just a little girl then, but those things she remembers.

I'm proud of her as a mom. The money that's she raised for City of Hope is just incredible. I've worked to instill that she can never forget how blessed she is to be involved in something she loves so much, and that she must do everything she can to give back. She's really done that. You can also see the light that turns on inside her when she stands on a stage and gets to give a $1 million check to the City of Hope. To use that fame, to give back to kids and the City of Hope…it's the only reason that makes what she's doing worth it for us.