According to InStyle, every year hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that last year, about 252,710 new cases were diagnosed in women. The organization also estimated that about 40,610 women died from it.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer found in women in the United States. The hereditary nature of this cancer means that lifestyle can oftentimes have little effect on the development of the disease. However, a regular mammogram can increase the chance of finding the signs early and in time for successful treatment.
Below you can find 15 well-known women, who have had breast cancer and overcame it, and what they had to say.
1. Christina Applegate
The American comedy actress was diagnosed in the year 2008 at the age of 36. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy after finding out she carried the ‘breast cancer gene’, meaning the BRCA gene. Her malignant tumor was found via an MRI after her doctor claimed that the mammogram wasn’t sufficient because of the denseness of her breasts. During an interview on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, she said:
I am a 36-year-old person with breast cancer, and not many people know that that happens to women my age or women in their 20s… This is my opportunity now to go out and fight as hard as I can for early detection.
2. Sheryl Crow
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and has now overcome the disease. She spoke to Health Magazine in 2012, talking about how to ‘allow yourself to experience your emotions’. She said:
As Westerners, we’ve gotten adept at suppressing them. It’s always ‘Try not to think about it’ or ‘Keep yourself busy.’ You push all that stuff down, and it manifests itself in other ways, whether it’s stress or disease. So my attitude was to grieve when I felt like grieving, be afraid when I felt like being afraid, and be angry when I felt like being angry. It also helped me to learn to say no to people. That’s been really liberating.
3. Cynthia Nixon
“Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon was diagnosed in 2002 and privately treated her cancer with a lumpectomy and radiation, and then announced her diagnosis.
“Get your mammograms and don’t delay,” she said.
4. Kylie Minogue
She was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 39, after being misdiagnosed initially by her doctor, as she claims. She had surgery four days after her diagnosis and began chemotherapy. She is now cancer free. She told Ellen DeGeneres in 2008:
So my message to all of you and everyone at home is, because someone is in a white coat and using big medical instruments doesn’t necessarily mean they are right.
5. Olivia Newton-John
She was first diagnosed in 1992 and became cancer-free for 25 years. Unfortunately, in May 2017, her cancer returned metastasizing in her sacrum, with symptoms of back pain. She, then, began receiving photo-radiation therapy. In a press release published on her Facebook page, she said:
I decided on my direction of therapies after consultation with my doctors and natural therapists and the medical team at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
6. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
The American actress announced her diagnosis on Twitter in September 2017, at the age of 56. She wrote:
1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.
7. Carly Simon
The American musician had the cancerous lumps in her breasts removed, after being told they were nothing to worry about for years. Luckily, cancer hadn’t yet spread to her lymph nodes. She told an interviewer at Independent that ‘it really changes an awful lot of things,’ saying:
It allows you to grow a great deal because it makes you accept what’s new and different and maybe a little misshapen or not having testosterone and feeling hot flushes.
8. Dame Maggie Smith
She was diagnosed with cancer during the filming of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’, at the age of 74. However, she continued filming even during the chemotherapy. She told an interviewer at The Telegraph:
The last couple of years have been a write-off, though I’m beginning to feel like a person now. My energy is coming back. S*** happens. I ought to pull myself together a bit.
9. Suzanne Somers
She told the DailyMail that getting cancer was the ‘beginning of a new life’ for her. Instead of following her surgery with chemotherapy, she declined treatment and used Iscador, a medicine made from mistletoe, instead. She injected the medicine daily for 10 years, and she now attributes her unwavering health to it. She grows her own organic vegetables and has a fitness routine. She said:
My success was and is self-evident. I’m alive. I’ve lived. I’ve thrived and have grown as a person. I’m now healthier than ever. Who can argue with that?
10. Gloria Steinem
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986, after which she had a lumpectomy. She discussed the effects of cancer with Dave Davies on NPR’s “Fresh Air” in 2016, saying:
It made me realize several things. One was – this may sound strange if I try to say it short – but that, actually, I wasn’t – I was less afraid of dying than of aging – or not of aging, exactly. I didn’t know how to enter the last third of life because there were so few role models because when I first heard this diagnosis, first, I thought, ironically, oh, so that’s how it’s going to end, you know? And then I thought to myself, as if it was welling up from the deepest part of me, I’ve had a wonderful life. And I treasure that moment. You know, it meant a lot to me.
11. Robin Roberts
After recovering from breast cancer in 2007 with a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy, she developed a rare blood disease brought on by the cancer treatment known as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). She told an interviewer at Good Housekeeping in 2012:
I’m not one of those people who say, ‘Cancer is one of the best doggone things that ever happened to me.’ I was appreciating life. But [the disease] has made me far more patient than I’ve ever been in my life. And I’m more in the moment with people.
12. Judy Blume
She revealed the diagnosis in a blog post, writing:
Revealing her diagnosis in a blog post, renowned children’s author Judy Blume wrote of the received news of her biopsy from her routine ultrasound:
Wait – me? There’s no breast cancer in my family (recent extensive genetic testing shows no genetic connection). I haven’t eaten red meat in more than 30 years. I’ve never smoked, I exercise every day, forget alcohol — It’s bad for my reflux — I’ve been the same weight my whole adult life. How is this possible? Well, guess what — it’s possible.
She received a mastectomy 6 weeks after her diagnosis at the age of 74, and claimed that is was quick and cause very little pain.
13. Kathy Bates
She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2012. According to Healthline, she said:
I’ve joined the ranks of women who are going flat, as they say. I don’t have breasts — so why do I have to pretend like I do? That stuff isn’t important. I’m just grateful to have been born at a time when the research made it possible for me to survive. I feel so incredibly lucky to be alive.
14. Wanda Sykes
She was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in her left breast in 2011. She went for a double mastectomy. Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres in 2011, she said:
I had both breasts removed, because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer.
15. Tig Notaro
She performed a transgressive comedy set in 2012, in which she admitted she had cancer to the audience, although she, herself had found out earlier that day. However, now she’s cancer-free, after a double mastectomy. She said on the stage:
Is everybody having a good time? I have cancer.