Here are 14 female celebrities who survived major cancer scares, and managed to craft an inspiring story around their battle with cancer to help other women identify and overcome the symptoms of the same disease.
1. Christina Applegate.
In 2008, the lovely actress who played Kelly Bundy on the Married with Children sitcom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she caught it early, after undergoing further testing that went beyond regular mammograms-including MRI screening and a biopsy. The cancer was located only in the left breast; however, after seeing a surgeon and an oncologist and finding out that her test for breast cancer gene (BRCA) came back positive, Christina decided to undergo bilateral mastectomy. At this point, the actress has managed to put this traumatic episode behind her, and is involved in campaigns meant to raise awareness about the importance of early detection, and facilitate women’s access to genetic testing and MRIs-two life-saving elements that are not covered by most insurance companies.
2. Cynthia Nixon.
Known especially for portraying Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon has never hesitated to talk about life decisions and events that some may be inclined to consider taboos, such as her union with Christine Marinoni, and her victorious battle with breast cancer. Diagnosed with this disease in 2006, Nixon opted for surgery to remove the small cancer identified via mammograms, and then biopsied by her specialists. She underwent a lumpectomy immediately, on a Saturday, to avoid missing any scheduled performances. Nixon has made a full recovery, and is now happy to share her cancer surviving experience with the rest of the world as a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation spokeswoman.
3. Kathy Bates.
Kathy Bates is much appreciated for her talent and ability to cover a wide array of inspiring characters; at the same time, she is well known for her fierceness and positive outlook on life, which allowed her to win the battle with cancer not once, but twice. In 2003, the Oscar-winning actress managed to survive ovarian cancer; nine years later, she kicked breast cancer to the curb, after having a double mastectomy. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Bates decided to make her struggle public, and help others survive cancer by becoming an ambassador for LE&RN (Lymphatic Education and Research Network) to raise awareness about lymphedema (swelling in the arms or legs), an additional concern that affects around 30% of the people who have survived breast cancer.
4. Sharon Osbourne.
Sharon was diagnosed with colon cancer one year before turning 50. Counting on the full support of her loving family, Sharon chose to undergo surgery to eliminate a foot of her large intestine, as well as the lymph nodes surrounding this area. The surgery took place in July, in 2002. Since one of her lymph nodes turned out to be cancerous, revealing that her disease had expanded beyond the colon, Osbourne decided to undergo chemotherapy in order to destroy any cancer cells that were not eliminated via surgery. This intervention saved her life, and allowed her to recover nicely and stay cancer-free. Her initial efforts to achieve victory in her battle with cancer enabled her to rediscover her strength and joy of living. Eventually, this unpleasant, life-changing experience gave her the power to opt for a double mastectomy in 2012, after finding out that she was at risk of developing breast cancer. In spite of the invasive, lengthy treatment she underwent, and the grueling, stressful recovery time, Sharon didn’t feel sorry for herself at all; on the contrary, she sees her mastectomy as a precautionary method implemented to make sure that she will never have to live in the shadow of this disease again.
5. Cybill Shepherd.
In 2012, Shepherd was diagnosed with skin cancer. The actress noticed a growth on her back, which later tested positive for melanoma. While her publicist stated that the growth was benign, the star’s mother, Patti Mucci, confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis, while also affirming that this type of cancer is part of her family’s genetic heritage. The surgeons involved in this case managed to remove the growth, enabling Cybill to overcome her worst fears and get her life back on track. The surgical intervention left a scar that was reportedly patched up by a plastic surgeon.
6. Suzanne Somers.
In 2000, the results of a routine mammogram disrupted Suzanne Somers’ balance, letting her know that she had cancer. Instead of following the standard treatment protocol, which involved chemotherapy, Somers decided to rely on conventional radiation treatment, associated with homeopathic therapy. In 2001, Somers shed some light on her alternative treatment methods, including the usage of Iscador, a remedy based on mistletoe extract. Following the advice of her doctor, Somers chose to surgically remove her cancerous lump, and undergo radiation therapy to remove any remaining cancerous structures.
7. Sheryl Crow.
In 2016, Sheryl Crow is happy to celebrate 10 years of being cancer-free. In 2006, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, with proper treatment, she won the fight with her early-stage cancer. At this point, she sees this traumatic event as a life lesson that taught her to reorganize her priorities, keep stress levels in check, and always put herself first. Crow also made significant dietary changes, and chose to eat meals based mostly on seasonal, organic ingredients. Inspired by her own strength, she decided to help other women by attending cancer events, and spreading the word about Genius 3D Mammography Exams, the innovation that enables doctors to identify and treat cancer earlier and more successfully.
8. Fran Drescher.
Fran Drescher can teach us all how to survive uterine cancer with grace, determination and humor, even after she was incorrectly diagnosed and mistreated for a health condition she didn’t have. Her symptoms were linked to several underlying causes, including the fact that she was too thin and ate too much spinach. Two years (and several appointments with eight specialists) later, after undergoing endometrial biopsy, the best-loved actress was told she had gynecologic cancer. In 2002, inspired by her overall approach to treating cancer, Drescher wrote Cancer Schmancer, a book that underlines her mission to elevate the quality of women’s healthcare in the U.S, and help promote effective cancer prevention and detection solutions.
9. Kylie Minogue.
2016 is a good year for Kylie Minogue, considering that is marks a decade since she won the final battle with cancer. The popular Australian singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2005, at 36. At that time, she was busy planning the last details of her world tour, and living life to the fullest with her boyfriend, Olivier Martinez. Minogue was forced to cancel her tour dates, and seek immediate medical treatment. During this stressful process, she counted on the full support of her sister, Dannii Minogue, who stayed in contact with her fans, and sent periodical updates regarding her sister’s speedy recovery. After undergoing a partial mastectomy followed by rounds of chemo and radiation, Kylie received the all-clear in 2006.
10. Melissa Etheridge.
In 2005, Melissa Etheridge started her battle with breast cancer. Her treatment plan included a lumpectomy, followed by several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. This painful and extremely stressful experience prompted her to make several lifestyle changes. First of all, the Grammy Award winner embraced a workout regimen meant to strengthen her body and keep her healthy. Secondly, during her recovery period, Melissa learned how to unleash the power of positive thinking to endure even the least comfortable treatments. Lastly, she became more aware of her dieting habits, and developed new, healthier ones, like avoiding refined sugar, taking a tsp of apple cider vinegar, and eating at least one salad each day.
11. Olivia Newton John
In 1992, Olivia Newton John was diagnosed with breast cancer during the same weekend in which her father lost the fight with a different form of cancer. From the very beginning, the actress worked hard to banish negative thoughts and focus on her full recovery. On the path to a cancer-free future, Olivia underwent a partial mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy. Through breast reconstruction, she aimed to turn her struggle into a thing of the past, and erase the marks that her battle with cancer had left on her body. During this long, stressful journey, Olivia explored different approaches to treating cancer, including meditation, herbal formulas, and an improved vision of wellness. At this point, she is cancer-free, well, and eager to get involved in cancer prevention, detection and treatment campaigns supported by the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.
12. Carly Simon.
Carly Simon is one of the less fortunate celebrities who couldn’t count on a great deal of support from her peers during her battle with cancer. In 2007 and 2008, the singer spent most of her time seeking the most effective treatment options for breast cancer. As she points out, cancer took a tremendous toll on both her personal and professional life, making her reconsider her priorities, change her mindset, and rely on her own strength to get better. After being diagnosed with stage-one breast cancer, Simon had the malignant tumor surgically removed from her breast, and underwent chemotherapy. To cope with the side-effects of her treatment, including hair loss that impacted her self-esteem, she bought several wigs and focused on her own wellbeing. The result? She is now cancer-free, and more vital and stronger than ever!
13. Jaclyn Smith.
Famous for her appearances in Shear Genius, a popular hairstylist reality competition, as well as many movies, TV shows and commercials, Jaclyn Smith is also known as a brave breast cancer survivor. The former Charlie’s Angels actress fought cancer in 2003. Her battle with the disease involved a lumpectomy with radiation. Thanks to her routine mammography, the star managed to identify the cancer in its earliest phase, paving the way towards an effective treatment plan. To cope with her darkest fears and the discomfort caused by her treatment, Smith learned how to re-educate herself to gain strength. At this point, the actress is on a mission to change lives, as a spokesperson for a campaign entitled Strength in Knowing: The Facts and Fiction of Breast Cancer Risk, meant to help women protect and improve breast health.
14. Jane Fonda.
Jane Fonda also had a scare with a form of cancer in 2010. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer, or cancer in situ, which means that in her case, the cancer cells did not expand beyond the lobules or breast ducts. Non-invasive cancer constitutes 20% of the new cases of breast cancer. When diagnosed early and treated properly, this type of cancer is linked to a five-year survival rate estimated at 100%. Generally speaking, treatment options include a lumpectomy accompanied by radiation, or the surgical removal of the breast featuring cancerous cells. Since the doctors managed to remove all the cancer cells through a straightforward surgical procedure, Fonda didn’t require chemo or radiation to make a full recovery. Now cancer-free, Fonda considers herself lucky to be alive, and thanks other breast cancer survivors for being a part of the support system that helped her regain her strength and confidence during her 2010 battle with this life-threatening disease.