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CNN LIVE TODAY

Interview with Melina Kanakaredes

Aired October 4, 2002 - 11:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Shifting gears quite a bit. The new series premiere of the hit NBC drama "Providence" begins tonight.
Melina Kanakaredes stars as Dr. Sydney Hansen. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure you did all kinds of things in that little clinic of yours, but this is a very busy hospital, and we cannot afford to be caught shorthanded. Is that understood?

MELINA KANAKAREDES, ACTRESS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Melina, short and sweet there. She joins us now to talk about the show and her fight to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Good to see you.

KANAKAREDES: Thank you so much. Nice to be here.

WHITFIELD: You are in Kansas City, and you are also the spokesperson for this breast cancer awareness campaign. It involves Lee jeans and $5 donations. How does it work?

KANAKAREDES: Well, it's a really great day for me. Not only is it the premiere of "Providence" tonight, but Lee National Diamond Day is a very simple concept. You can wear any jeans, doesn't have to be Lee jeans. You wear your jeans to work. Hopefully, corporations will encourage their employees to wear their jeans to work, and you give a $5 donation, and the $5 goes directly to the Susan G. Kohlmann (ph) Foundation. It's a fun and easy way to raise money and awareness for a very important cause.

WHITFIELD: And this campaign really hits very close to home for you, in terms of your experience by a close friend hit hard by breast cancer, afflicted with it, or diagnosed, I should say, about two years ago, and your friend Katina Anapolopolis (ph) with you, right?

KANAKAREDES: Yes, she's right here with me. It's been an interesting couple of years, Katina (ph), you can speak for herself, too. She was given her yearly mammogram and everything turned out fine, and then through self examination, she found a lump and went in and was told it was cancer, so we went through the whole process together. Katina (ph), might want to tell you about it.

WHITFIELD: Katina, if you can hear me, why don't you tell me a little bit about your experience and why it was so important for you, for early detection, and that was the key in your battle?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, when you do your self-exam, like I did, you save lives, and I think it's important for every woman to do the mammograms also every month, do the self-exam, and it's really important.

KANAKAREDES: Yes, Katina was one of these women, too. She's from Greece originally, and, you know, like many of my relatives, has relatives herself that you have to push to go to the doctor and don't always take care of themselves the way they should. And one of the most impressive things about her unbelievable strength through all of this, is that having no history of breast cancer in her family, having been told this is probably nothing, nothing showed up on your mammogram, there is a 2 percent chance have you cancer, she went in full speed ahead and was so encouraging and such an energy that I couldn't believe it, the strength that she had.

And through Susan G. Kohlmann (ph) Foundation, before I was asked to participate in Lee's event today. We got some wonderful help from this organization, where they sent a great amount of material in Greek, written in Greek, so Katina can more understand the type of cancer she had, the type of options she had for treatment. I speak Greek fluently, and I was there as her translator. I may speak the doctorese on television, but there is always someone there with a script, but when it comes to the actual stuff, it really helps to have something like that, and that's just one of the many examples of what the Susan G. Kohlmann (ph) Foundation does for people .

So I am so thrilled that all of the money goes directly to them.

WHITFIELD: And I know so many are so thrilled that you're involved in this campaign, and helping to get the word out, and thank you so much, Melina, for joining us. And of course, we'll be tuning in this evening for the season premiere, "The Proposal." We can all read into what that means, and your friend Katina, appreciate you for joining us.

KANAKAREDES: Thanks for having us.

WHITFIELD: And good luck on the campaign.

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