16 Celebrities Who Battled Breast Cancer
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (diagnosed 2017 at 56)
The Emmy winner took to Twitter to reveal she has breast cancer just days before Breast Cancer Awareness month in 2017. Louis-Dreyfus shared a photo of typed text along with her signature. "One in eight women get breast cancer. Today, I'm the one," she wrote. "The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring friends, and fantastic insurance through my union." The Veep star accompanied the photo with the tweet: "Just when you thought…"
Cynthia Nixon (diagnosed 2006 at 40)
While they may be your first thought when it comes to breast cancer symptoms, lumps aren't the only sign that something may be wrong.
Sheryl Crow (diagnosed 2006 at 44)
"I am a walking advertisement for early detection," Sheryl Crow said in October 2006 about catching suspicious calcifications in both of her breasts on a routine mammogram. The rocker immediately postponed a tour, went into surgery, and had seven weeks of radiation, supplemented with acupuncture and herbal teas. Crow—whose engagement to cyclist Lance Armstrong ended around the time she was diagnosed—was able to skip chemotherapy because her cancer was caught so early. In March 2007, Crow (who has no close family history of breast cancer) petitioned Congress to fund research into possible links between breast cancer and environmental factors.
Edie Falco (diagnosed 2003 at 40)
When Sopranos star Edie Falco was diagnosed with breast cancer, she kept it almost completely secret; she barely told a soul on the set of the six-season HBO hit series on which she played mob wife Carmela Soprano. Falco quietly went into treatment and emerged cancer-free—and with shorter hair—in 2004.
She says she chose to stay mum because she didn't want any fuss or pity. "It was very important for me to keep my diagnosis under the radar... because well-meaning people would have driven me crazy asking, 'How are you feeling?'" Falco
told Health. Instead, she "bucked up, put on my Carmela fingernails, and was ready to work."
Kylie Minogue (diagnosed 2005 at 36)
A misdiagnosis almost lost Australian pop star Kylie Minogue her chance to fight—and defeat—breast cancer. It wasn't until she decided to go in for a second round of tests that doctors found the lump in her left breast. A partial mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation followed.
The singer has emerged from her ordeal with a plea that women should trust their gut more when they go to the doctor. "Just because someone is in a white coat and using big medical instruments doesn't necessarily mean they’re right," she told Ellen DeGeneres in 2007.
Elizabeth Edwards (diagnosed 2004 at 55)
Elizabeth Edwards—the estranged wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, mother of three, and a former bankruptcy attorney—put off mammograms for four years. Then in 2004 she discovered a large lump in her right breast that turned out to be cancerous.
surgery and radiation, Edwards appeared at first to be cancer-free. But in 2007, doctors discovered the cancer had spread to one of her ribs, hip bones, and lungs. She lost her battle with cancer in 2010, at the age of 61.
Robin Roberts (diagnosed 2007 at 46)
Good Morning America
anchor Robin Roberts had made a name for herself interviewing A-list athletes, actors, and other newsworthy personalities, but on July 31, 2007, she turned the camera on herself to announce she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I did a self breast exam and found something that women everywhere fear: I found a lump," she said in a message posted online the day of her surgery. Roberts completed eight chemotherapy treatments, followed by radiation. In 2012, she underwent a bone marrow transplant for MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome.
Jaclyn Smith (diagnosed 2002 at 56)
Seventies icon and ex-model Jaclyn Smith may be best remembered as Kelly Garrett, one of three sexy private investigators in the television series Charlie’s Angels, but lately she's in hot pursuit of breast cancer instead of hardened criminals.
In 2002, the fashion and home furnishings entrepreneur and host of the Bravo show Shear Genius discovered a lump in one of her breasts during a routine checkup. She had a lumpectomy and radiation, and later became active with groups such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Smith also speaks publicly about the recognizing breast cancer risk factors as part of the Strength in Knowing program.
Christina Applegate (diagnosed 2008 at 36)
Melissa Etheridge (diagnosed 2004 at 43)
Rocker Melissa Etheridge famously performed bald during a Janis Joplin tribute at the 2005 Grammys after completing a rigorous regimen of chemotherapy and radiation following a lumpectomy. She had found a lump in her left breast the year before while examining herself in the shower and was inspired to write the song “I Run for Life” about the battle against breast cancer.
Etheridge has lost her father, aunt, and grandmother to cancer, and describes her own experience as leading to a "spiritual awakening." "It taught me that I shouldn't do anything that I don't love completely," she said in September 2007.
Diahann Carroll (diagnosed 1998 at 63)
For Grey's Anatomy scene-stealer Diahann Carroll, who played the mother of Dr. Preston Burke on the TV hospital drama, breast cancer came at a very common age for U.S. women—her early 60s. But Carroll (who in 1968 became the first African-American actress to star in her own television series,Julia had no family history of the disease and was caught by surprise. She underwent a lumpectomy and 36 radiation treatments and then went on the road to urge more postmenopausal women to get tested. In 2008 she released the tell-all book, The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying & Other Things I Learned the Hard Way ($10; amazon.com).
Hoda Kotb (diagnosed 2007 at age 42)
“Forward.” That was Hoda Kotb’s motto after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction in 2007. While the TODAY show anchor’s treatment has kept her cancer-free since, it also made her unable to conceive, thwarting her longtime plans to have her own child.
That didn’t stop Kotb from fulfilling her dreams of motherhood. In 2017, she adopted a newborn daughter. “It’s one of those things where you think you’ve done it all, you think you’ve felt it all,” she told PEOPLE. “But I just didn’t know that this kind of love existed.”
Olivia Newton-John (diagnosed 1992 at age 44)
After 25 years cancer-free, Olivia Newton-John announced she has breast cancer again in 2017. The star was first diagnosed at age 44, after she discovered a lump during a routine self-exam. Though surgery and eight months of chemotherapy treatment put her in remission for years, Newton-John is now battling metastatic breast cancer that has spread to her sacrum, or lower spine.
Though the Grammy winner initially put her concert tour on hold, she bounced back with support from those closest to her: “My mom and best friend is going to be fine,” her daughter Chloe Rose Lattanzi wrote on Instagram in June 2017. “She will be using medicine that I often talk about. CBD oil! (Cannabis has scientifically proven properties to inhibit cancer cell growth) and other natural healing remedies plus modern medicine to beat this.”
Wanda Sykes (diagnosed 2011 at age 47)
Leave it to funny lady Wanda Sykes to make fans laugh while she opened up about having breast cancer for the first time. While on the Ellen Degeneres Show in 2011, the comedian revealed she was diagnosed with an early form of the disease called DCIS after she underwent a breast reduction (because she was “tired of knocking over stuff”). Sykes, who has a long history of breast cancer in her family, chose to get a bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts. “I just felt so fortunate and blessed that I was able to take care of it,” she told Ellen.
Kathy Bates (diagnosed 2012 at age 64)
Almost 10 years after Kathy Bates was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, her doctors found a tumor in her left breast. “I wasn’t going to fool around,” the actress told AARP The Magazine in 2013. “I had a double mastectomy.”
Bates, who has previously said breast cancer “runs like a river through [her] family,” recently revealed that both her agent and her gynecologist warned her not to share her initial ovarian cancer diagnosis with the public, fearing it would hurt her Hollywood career. But when Bates learned she had stage 2 breast cancer in 2012, she felt compelled to tell her fans and raise awareness about the disease. “I’m just grateful to have been born at a time when the research made it possible for me to survive,” she told WebMD. “I feel so incredibly lucky to be alive.”
Giuliana Rancic (diagnosed 2011 at age 36)
Giuliana Rancic learned she had breast cancer after she got a mammogram at her doctor’s request. The then-36-year-old was about to do a third round of in vitro fertilization treatment when her doctor suggested she undergo the screening exam. The test signaled that Rancic, who has no family history of breast cancer, was in the early stages of the disease. Her treatment plan included initial lumpectomies, followed by a double mastectomy later on.
The E! News host said she was floored by her diagnosis, especially at such a young age: “The second I heard the [word] ‘cancer,’ I just remember my head went down, the ground went away, and I just dropped through the earth, and I was just dropping, falling,” she told PEOPLE in 2012. She didn’t let the shock keep her down for long, though. “Something like this can happen to you but you can still be strong and you can survive and you can get through this,” she said less than a year after her diagnosis.