Celebrities Who Lived
With Breast Cancer
The Battle They Didn't Choose
But Fought With Strength And Courage
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How Celebrities Dealt With Breast Cancer?
It’s often said that cancer doesn’t discriminate.
Breast cancer isn’t an exception.
It affects people of all ages, gender, race, ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds. It doesn’t care if you are famous or not; rich or poor, strong or weak, Fit or Not … When it comes knocking, you are facing an uphill battle.
Fighting Breast Cancer is a Huge Challenge.
And celebrities are not immune to the disease either. They are humans and face risks the same risks all other mere mortals face.
Historically, Breast cancer in particular, has been an unwelcome guest into celebrities life and career. However, through their own unique experiences and journeys fighting breast cancer, they found ways to use their fame and influence to help raise awareness and help other patients in their own journey.
Battling breast cancer takes strength and courage, but it’s important to know you’re not alone. That’s why we’re celebrating the accomplishments of these famous women and men.
After fighting and for most beating cancer, they have used their influence to raise awareness about the disease, push for earlier detection, and advocate for better treatment and recovery options.
We hope their stories can help newly diagnosed patients and survivors in their journey.
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40 Inspiring Breast Cancer Stories
Julia Louis Dreyfus
Julia was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in September 2017 at age 56, just a day after winning an Emmy award for her role on the series Veep.
The Emmy winner took to Twitter to 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.
Later on she added:
“The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring friends, and fantastic insurance through my union.”
Julia, The Veep series star, added a comment to her tweet post: “Just when you thought…”
Ever since she battled the disease, undergoing chemotherapy and surgery as part of her treatment, she has always shared news about her progress with fans on social media.
She has always stated that she never intended to stop working during her fight against cancer, but was very candid in recognizing that it was far more difficult than she had anticipated. In an interview with the newspaper Washington post, she opened up about her condition and treatment and said:
“ I thought I could muscle through it, and to a certain extent, I did, because we did have table reads of scripts every three weeks. But I got really ill, so I couldn’t have ever shot anything during that period of time.”
The show production was delayed on several occasions due to the toll that cancer has taken on her health. Her condition forced HBO network to shorten the series of episodes to 7 instead of previously planned 10.
During the same interview, she said she wasn’t able to really describe how the diagnose has affected her outlook on life as a whole:
“I feel like I’m still a little bit in the throes of it,” she admitted. “Except what I would say about the fragility of life, as tropey as that sounds — I really do feel like, I guess people die. You go through life not considering the eventual reality that you’re going to bite the dust, and so is everybody around you.
“I’m grateful to be alive!”
The Sex And The City co-star was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 in 2006.
Nixon’s mother had breast cancer twice, therefore the actress was very conscious about the risks and started having mammograms at age 35.
Her tumor was diagnosed at an early stage and that played an important role on her recovery. It was a small tumor but after a biopsy it proved to be cancerous. She was treated with radiation and had lumpectomy immediately after and she didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy.
She followed lumpectomy with Tamoxifen and stayed on it for 4 years.
What proved to be crucial on Nixon’s case was her early diagnose. Being diagnosed early is one of the most important factors in increasing the probabilities of survival for breast cancer patients.
In 2008, the Sex and the City star revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram in 2006.
At first, she was very hesitant to reveal that a cancerous tumor had been discovered in her right breast during a routine check. Nixon, best known for playing the responsible Miranda Hobbes, didn’t want her condition to become public during her treatment.
“I didn’t want paparazzi at the hospital, that kind of thing,” Nixon told the New York Daily News after treating her cancer with a and radiation.
The reason behind her decision to open up and share the news with the world was that Nixon believed that her story might serve as an inspiration for other women at risk and help other people overcome the challenge
Nixon has given several interviews since going public about it and was always very honest about the challenges involved. She likes to stress that her cancer compared to many others, was mild and that every condition is unique.
Grammy Award-winning artist and rock star was diagnosed at age 44 in 2006
She was diagnosed with a non-invasive form of breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy in 2006. Following radiation treatment, she confirmed she’d defeated the disease later that year.
She has been cancer-free for more than 10 years.
Similar to Cynthia Nixon, Crow’s early detection made all the difference and she really stresses the importance of her experience whenever she can.
“I am a walking advertisement for early detection,” she 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 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.
She has been a cancer advocate ever since. What is very unique about her approach is her focus on nutrition and exercise.
While her cancer diagnosis had a huge impact on her life, one of the most important was the notion that food choice and her diet played a key role on her recovery.
She had always been fit and very conscious about her diet, but she had never made the connection between her eating habits and the impact it had on her health. It was only after her Oncologist encouraged her to visit a nutritionist specializing on Cancer Prevention that Crow realized how important it was.
We underestimate how important our diet is. Food selection, intake and the ability it has to nourish and protect our bodies receives much lower credit than deserved. Crow recognized that and made her diet an even higher priority in her life.
She has published a book together with her personal chef Chuck White to share her knowledge on the topic and help other people to learn what they can do to with their diet to improved their health and cancer patients in their journey. Her book is called “ If it makes you healthy”
Diagnosed in 2003 at age 40
When Sopranos star Edie Falco was diagnosed with breast cancer, her life changed. Upon receiving the news, she thought time had stopped and it was as if she couldn’t walk. “It was lucky I was with my boyfriend, otherwise I would have passed out”, she told www.health.com in an interview.
Later on, she came into terms with her diagnosis. She realized that she was very privileged to have the access to resources and financial means to fight the disease, very often a huge hurdle for most new diagnosed patients.
Falco kept her diagnosis very private from the very beginning. She decided not to share the news with her colleagues. She kept it almost completely secret; she barely told a single cast or crew member on the set of the six-season HBO hit series on which she played mob wife Carmela Soprano.
She shared the news with Ilene Leandress, the show producer to help her working out a schedule around her treatment appointments and carried on working. She 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 . Instead, she “bucked up, put on my Carmela fingernails, and was ready to work.”
Cancer changed her approach to life and health. She tried her best to take very good care of her diet and fitness. In her case, Running was the exercise of choice; it helped her to stay calm and feel stronger. As for her diet, she had her ups and downs. She gained weight in the process as she resourced to eating fat foods on the days she was feeling nauseated.
Remission was a struggle for Falco. She was very relieved but she felt depressed. The cancer hospital weekly visits had an impact on her. The uncertainty she felt, took a toll on her emotionally.
Only when she realized that she wasn’t going to die from cancer in 2004, that she decided to move on with her life. Nothing is certain in life and as Falco said in an interview: “ Obviously, it wasn’t meant for me to die of cancer at 40. Every day my life surprises me, just like my cancer diagnosis surprised me. But you roll with it. That’s our job as humans.”
The Grammy Award Singer was diagnosed at age 36 in 2005. She quickly began Chemotherapy treatment to fight the disease, followed by radiation. She had a partial mastectomy, rounds of radiation and chemotherapy during her +/- 6 months treatment.
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 that doctors found the lump in her left breast.
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.
In 2015, ten years after her diagnosis, treatments and road to remission, she admitted she was till struggling emotionally with the entire ordeal. Some days, I’m still not at peace with it. I go, ‘Dammit, I wish I could just wear what I used to wear…’ “It changes a lot of things. It breaks my heart to think about what my family had to go through.”
She revealed that she tries to cope with it by staying at home and away from public eyes. She reveals: “I just stay at home or someone else’s home, safe where there’s no one with their phones. You don’t have to have your eyes darting around the whole time.”
Diagnosed at age 55 in 2004
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.
Edwards first treatment was chemotherapy in the attempt to reduce the size of her tumor; next came lumpectomy – surgery to remove the tumor while saving as much of the breast as possible- followed by radiation therapy.
After all procedures,, Edwards appeared at first to be cancer-free. But in 2007, she hurt a rib and after x-rays and a series of scans, she found out that her breast cancer was back as a stage 4 cancer, the most advanced stage of the disease.
During the examinations doctors discovered the cancer had spread to one of her ribs, hip bones, and most probably her lungs and liver.
She lost her battle with cancer in 2010, at the age of 61.
Diagnosed at age 46 in 2007.
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.
Her crossroads with cancer started when she found an unusual hard lump on her left breast while doing self breast examination. “I felt this one was different. It was in a different part of my breast and it was hard’. She had a couple of mammograms just after to find out what it was and the result came back negative.
To remove doubts, her doctor ordered an ultrasound and that is when her fear became reality. The following year, she completed surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments.
Her lumpectomy as more than just a standard lumpectomy. Her surgeon removed more than one normally remove during a lumpectomy and that was crucial in saving her from more surgeries in later stages. Her tumor proved to be far more aggressive than what doctor’s had initially anticipated.
Roberts had a very aggressive type of tumor, called triple-negative tumor. Triple negative tumor patients don’t get the “all-clear” before 5 or 7 years after completing therapy, because there is no way to prevent it from coming back in the same way it is done with other types of tumors.
An interesting factor Roberts discovered while researching ways to prevent a recurrence, was that maintaining a lower body fat percentage helped to reduce the probability of recurrence. She started working with a nutritionist to learn more and work on her nutrition and diet.
Roberts speaks openly about the importance of taking care of one’s fitness. Being fit may not prevent one from getting cancer, but it sure helps in fighting it. Nobody can control cancer; it can hit anyone at anytime.
In recent years she has shared the challenges involved in fighting breast cancer. She addresses topics such as the constant dealing with her insurance company to get treatment coverage and finding out how to get assistance.
She understood that she was not the norm; she was part of a selected group that has great insurance coverage and how critical it was. Unfortunately, her situation is very different than most patients. 90% of patients embarking on this journey are facing an uphill battle, physically and financially.
In post treatment interviews, she expressed clearly the sense of fear she felt after ending treatment and being told to move on with her life. The sense of insecurity and constant fear are emotionally draining. Roberts share the view that most patients go through a similar experience.
She talked openly about post chemo depression and how long it takes for the body to recover from the post treatment side effects.
Unfortunately, the broadcaster was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2012, and underwent bone marrow transplant. Later in 2013, it was announced she was in “good health”.
Diagnosed at age 56 in 2002
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 in recent years she has become an important ambassador in the fight against breast cancer.
In 2002, the fashion and home furnishings entrepreneur and host of the Bravo show Shear Genius discovered a lump in her left breast during her yearly routine mammogram checkup. She openly admitted in many occasions that she used to go for her mammogram to get it ouf of the way and simply have it crossed it out from her to do list.
Her doctor told her that was something suspicious and made sure she had a core biopsy, an ultrasound and a needle biopsy.
Today, she likes to stress how naive she was to think that it was not a big deal. She underestimated the impact it would have on her life and speaks on public engagements to raise awareness.
As with every patient, the news of a positive diagnosis hit hard. Her world stop spinning and questions such as “ will I be here for my kids?” became part of her new reality.
As with most successful cases, her early diagnosis helped on the road to recovery.
She had a lumpectomy and radiation, and later became active with groups such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She stresses the importance of education and access to quality information as key factors on fighting cancer. Education is power and it is a huge priority.
Smith compared learning about cancer as learning a complete foreign language. Understand the terminology, what are the side effects, what each step of treatment means is very important for patients and all those involved such as close family and relatives.
She speaks publicly about recognizing breast cancer risk factors as part of the Strength in Knowing program and has taken advocacy roles on many other organizations such as Susan G. Komen, The John Wayne Cancer Foundations among other roles.
She is also huge advocate of support groups and believes that it plays a pivotal role in successfully beating cancer. She raises funds and provide support to organizations that can provide women with a network of information and emotional support.
Diagnosed in 2008 at age 36
For most women, the idea of parting with one breast, let alone two, is unimaginable. But that’s what actress Christina Applegate opted to do after she was diagnosed with breast cancerin the summer of 2008, even though cancer was found in only one breast.
She had a history of breast cancer in her family and decided to be tested for BRCA mutation. The test came back positive and she took the very radical decision to have both breasts removed. She chose double mastectomy to reduce the chance that the cancer could spread or come back.
She had reconstructive surgery when she was 37 years old.
The news of her double mastectomy took the entertainment world by surprise. The news were leaked to the press therefore forcing her to address the issue publicly. She attended the Emmy ceremony using a special dress to conceal her missing breasts.
Applegate later founded Right Action for Women, a nonprofit that provides financial aid to women at high risk of breast cancer. The foundation help fund MRI’s for high risk young women who are uninsured or can’t get their insurance to cover such expensive round of tests.
Diagnosed in 2004 at age 43
She famously performed bald during a Janis Joplin tribute at the 2005 Grammys after completing a rigorous regimen of chemotherapy and radiation following a lumpectomy. The performance was very special for Etheridge, as she used it to not only sing but channel all the emotions that accumulated during her breast cancer treatment.
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.
Breast cancer changed the singer’s outlook on life. She has been living a different lifestyle, far healthier and more connected with nature ever since undergoing cancer treatment.. The condition made her realize how important nutrition and exercise are as part of well being and the crucial role Happiness plays as a safeguard against stress and emotional issues.
Looking back at her cancer experience, Etheridge has mentioned in different occasions that she would like to seek some form of alternative treatment if she had to undergo treatment again. The singer songwriter had a difficult time during her chemo and would rather not follow the same path again.
Etheridge has lost her father, aunt, and grandmother to cancer, and described 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.
In 2011 interview to Media Planet, she added:“Those hours and days I spent lying there on chemotherapy led me to an enlightenment about life, spirit, purpose, health, what I’m doing here. It just opened a gateway to be able to understand and have joy in life. Cancer is your body’s last wakeup call.”
Diahann Carroll became the first African-American actress to star in her own television series,Julia in 1968 was diagnosed with cancer at age 58 in 1993.
Doctor’s discovered a lump on her right breast during a routine mammogram. From that moment on, her life changed. She was diagnosed with a small non invasive tumor. When she was first diagnosed with the disease, Carroll wanted it to kept it not only private, but a secret.
She says that the news were devastating but enter a state of neglect that many feel upon receiving difficult news. She decided to face the challenge with the same pragmatism she had faced other challenges in her life. She fought she could deal with it alone not really making an emotional connection with the reality.
Above all else, at that time, she said there was a lot of Vanity involved and she didn’t want anybody to know, including her family. What she didn’t expect were the physical and emotional challenges ahead.
Carroll had a lumpectomy and 10 weeks of radiation therapy. She dealt well with the treatment, but the big test came when she contracted chicken pox. In an interview she said: “It was very frightening,” and added “I thought, I’m being over-tested here.”
Still, she realized that she had to force herself to put all that fear aside and push on to get through what the situation demanded. It was a trying time physically and psychologically.
As is the case with many other celebrities, once she proecessed the news and dealt with the initial impact, she understood that instead of feeling sorry for herself and afraid about the negative impact it could have on her career and status, she could use the platform to help other women facing the same challenge.
Carroll often stresses the importance that her decision to go public had in her life and what a wonderful Journey it became. Today, she is not only a breast cancer survivor, but an important activist.
She understands the challenge and all the hurdles women face when dealing with the disease. There are a lot of misconceptions out there and the public must be educated about it.
For Carroll, who played the mother of Dr. Preston Burke on the TV hospital drama Grey’s Anatomy, breast cancer diagnosis came at age 58. Early 60’s is a very common age for U.S. women to be diagnosed.
She focus her attention and efforts to minority communities. She devotes a lot of her time and advocacy work to speaking with small groups on these communities about the importance of early detection and prevention,as well as education. She believes in 1 on 1 communication, face to face contact with people.
Carroll speaks often not only to African American community,
She also 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
Diagnosed at age 42 in 2007
“Forward.” That was Hoda Kotb’s motto after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction in 2007.
The veteran television news journalist and TV anchor, has been gracing the screens and reporting on all types of events for decades. From the most exciting to the tragic.
In 2007, tragedy stroke her own personal world when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She got the news from her doctor, after she found a lump in her breast and immediately visited her doctor for a mammogram and biopsy.
She had a mastectomy and followed up with a reconstructive surgery. Her cancer was detected very early and she didn’t need chemotherapy. Her cancer didn’t spread to the lymph nodes therefore not requiring any chemotherapy.
The journalist remained true to her roots during her treatment, with Today Show cameras shooting her treatment and recovery. She has allowed the world to witness from very close everything she had to face, in a very unique way, helping bringing awareness and educating the public about the topic.
She kept her composure, always smiling and trying to her best to share a positive message during very difficult times.
Up to this day, she is very open and supportive to other facing the challenges of breast cancer. She is known for being open and approachable with people reaching out to her on the streets of New York to speak and share their own stories and offering her time and appreciation in exchange.
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 at age 44 in 1992
After 25 years cancer-free, Olivia Newton-John announced she has breast cancer again in 2017. This is the third time she is fighting the disease.
The singer and actress star was first diagnosed at age 44, after she discovered a lump during a routine self-exam. Though modified radical mastectomy and eight months of chemotherapy treatment put her in remission for years, but in 2013 her cancer returned for the second time.
After the actress suffered a car accident, a lump appeared on her right shoulder.Initially both Newton-John and her doctor thought the lump was result of the car accident impact and seat belt hitting her shoulder, ended up being a tumor.
The second time the actress and singer, kept the news private as she thought she didn’t need to share the situation with the public.
She had conventional and alternative treatments the second time and the tumor shrunk.
Unfortunately, in 2017, she had another recurrence. She has been battling metastatic breast cancer that has spread to her sacrum, or lower spine.
Newton-John has undergone radiation therapy, has changed her nutrition by adopting a healthier diet and has been taking some cannabis/marijuana oil to help ease pain and discomfort. Her husband, herbal medicine entrepreneur John Easterling grows specially for her, in their Santa Barbara home.
The star hopes Australian authorities will implement changes to allow cancer patients to use cannabis derivatives to deal with their pain. She is another celebrity that shares her experiences and share details about her diet and nutrition habits (such as cutting sugar completely from her diet), meditation and fitness routine that includes yoga with the public. Her goal is help other patients find alternative ways to deal with pain and stress related to the disease.
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.”
Diagnosed at age 47 in 2011
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. Her decision came as a surprise to many, due to the fact that DCIS is not a very aggressive type of cancer, classified as Stage 0.
DCIS occurs in the milk ducts and appears as small dots – specs – of calcium on a mammogram. It is estimated that only 25% of cases progress into another form of invasive cancer.
In her case, Sykes, decided to completely remove risk out of the equation. Patients don’t know when and if the disease will ever return. She later explained in an interview to Ellen that she felt relieved to have taken care of her situation. She said :“I just felt so fortunate and blessed that I was able to take care of it,” and in another interview she added: “Now I have zero change of having breast cancer”.
Many specialists argue that her decision has some flaws.
The procedure reduces the risk of having breast cancer by 90%, but it doesn’t eliminate it completely. Cancer can still develop in the very small amount of breast tissue that can’t be removed surgically in the armpit, above the collarbone and on the chest wall.
Diagnosed at age 64 in 2012
Almost 10 years after Kathy Bates was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, her doctors found a tumor in her left breast. She decided to have a double mastectomy to deal with the situation. “I wasn’t going to fool around,” the actress told AARP The Magazine in 2013. “I had a double mastectomy.”
The Oscar award winning actress had a very difficult time after her surgery. She experienced major swelling and severe pain in her arms and it was discovered that she had lymphedema.
The disease is associated with breast cancer and commonly found after cancer surgery. Bates later opened up about it during an interview with AOL.com and said that she was more afraid of lymphedema than she was about losing her breasts.
She got professional help. She got help from Dr. Emily Iker, who helped Bates treat the condition, keep it under control as well as educate her about a condition that is not only physically but also, psychologically debilitating.
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.
The situation changed once she learned that she had stage 2 breast cancer in 2012. Bates felt compelled to tell her fans and raise awareness about the disease instead of worrying about her career. “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.”
Diagnosed at age 36 in 2011
Giuliana Rancic learned she had breast cancer after she got a mammogram at her doctor’s request.
She was 36 at the time and in the process of 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. Going through the procedures was very hard, according to Rancic. She said the support she got from her husband and family was key to her ability to deal with the situation.
Being a breast cancer patient and survivor changed her outlook on life. What matter before the diagnosis suddenly matter very little such as: her hair, makeup and clothes and all the usual topics she focused on at work, became secondary. All that mattered was getting healthy again.
The E! News host said she was hit very hard 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 later said that being diagnosed is a very scary situation. All the uncertainties and the unknowns that breast cancer brings with along are very difficult to manage. She believes the best way to deal with this new reality is to learn as much as you can possibly can about the disease and ask questions. In her own words, “Ask the right questions”
Rancic 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.
An element that Rancic focused from the onset was “cleaning” her routine. For her, it meant taking a closer look at everything, from what she was eating and drinking to what she was applying to her body. She spent time researching about products she was using and focused on the concept of clean beauty.
The TV star started using coconut oil and scent things with lavender. Prepared face masks with natural products such as eggs and other goods she had readily home that would not irritate her skin and cause any reactions.
Next, it was her medicine cabinet. The TV celebrity made sure that all that was left on her cabinet were the staples, which she makes herself. She simplified her beauty regimen and keep it to a bare minimum. Less is more, was her motto.
Finally, when everything became “too much”, she took a walk! Some people meditate, others Yoga, but in her case she found walking to be the best “medicine”. During her treatment she had to lay in bed for long periods of time and had no or very low energy. Talking a walk and feeling alive was the way to reverse that process and made her feel alive and strong.
The Three’s Company actress was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer in 2001.
The star underwent a lumpectomy and radiation therapy following the diagnosis and successfully defeated the disease. What is very unique in her case is the fact that she decided to skip chemotherapy. She was very reluctant to follow radiation , but her doctor told her point blank: “if you don’t, you will die!”
That said, she has since been outspoken about her decision to forgo post-cancer chemotherapy, while staying cancer-free.
Somers is probably the most controversial advocate for alternative breast cancer treatments.
She is not alone when it comes to challenging orthodox methods; other celebrities that victim to the disease have also challenged the mainstream cancer treatment methods.
What is unique about Somers, is her approach. She is very outspoken when it comes to unorthodox breast cancer therapies and believes that they provide a viable alternative for most patients.
Three years after her diagnosis in 2000, actress Suzanne Somers went on “Larry King Live” to talk about her experience with the disease.
“I look at everybody differently. I look at every child differently. I look at every flower differently,” Sommers said. “I’m grateful for every day…it’s like before and after. Once you’ve had (cancer), you just appreciate everything.”
Most recently, the actress was on headlines all over the world when she started talking about her regrown breast during an interview with Us Magazine. Her claims caused some stir and when some gossip magazines start to talk about a new scientific method to regrow human breasts naturally.
In 2012, Somers had an experimental stem cell fat grafting procedure to reconstruct her breast. Her procedure was not a tried and true method. It was and remains experimental. She didn’t regrown her breasts.
What Somers really have done is a procedure called autologus fat transplantation, which is a common procedure in breast reconstruction. Liposuction is used to remove fat from the patients own body, cleaned and later injected into another body area surgically.
The use of stem cells is new. It is believed to yield better results, but it has not been tested extensively to draw conclusions. The procedure is credited to Japanese researchers at the University of Tokyo, who developed a procedure called Cell-Assisted Lipotransfer in 2008 and published the results in the Journal of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
What they found is that using stem cells alongside injected fat could improve the survival of tissue in fat transplantation procedures. Part of the Fat injected usually die off with lipoinjection breast reconstruction.
The preliminary results have been promising, but aren’t conclusive. More research is needed to make sure it is safe and effective.
Shannen Doherty, Actress, Survived Advanced Breast Cancer
In August 2015, actress Shannen Doherty, best known for her roles on the shows Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed, confirmed to People magazine that she was being treated for breast cancer.
The news came out after it was reported on TMZ that Doherty was suing her former business manager for failing to pay her health insurance premiums, causing her coverage to lapse and resulting in the cancer being detected at a later stage than it would have been otherwise.
According to the lawsuit, the cancer was “metastatic to at least one lymph node” at the time it was discovered.
On an interview to Good Morning America, Doherty said her cancer journey made her more human and a better actor. “It takes down all your walls, all your barriers, everything that life sort of threw at you…you’re guarding yourself so yeah, that all comes tumbling down.”
In April 2017, after surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, Doherty, 45, announced on Instagram that her cancer is in remission.
She had chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. She shared details of her treatments with the public on Instagram. She has also shared a post about her remission and what it means for patients.
Here is what Doherty shared with her fans: “Moments. They happen. Today was and is a moment. What does remission mean? I heard that word and have no idea how to react. Good news? YES. Overwhelming. YES. Now more waiting. As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Reoccurrences happen all the time. Many of you have shared that very story with me. So with a heart that is certainly lighter, I wait. In the meantime, decisions. Reconstruction which is several surgeries. Decision on taking a pill for the next five years that comes with its own set of problems and side effects. I am blessed, I know that. But for now…. remission. I’m going to just breathe. #cancerslayer
After noticing a lump in her breast several years earlier, the “You’re So Vain” singer underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer beginning in 1997.
In a 2010 interview, Simon confessed that she was overwhelmed by the news and found herself pounding her head against the marble kitchen for hours repeating to herself: “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe it”.
Once things settle down a bit, she felt strong about it after the initial rage. In fact, she believes that was one of her strongest periods of her life.
Simon has opened up in recent years regarding the side effects that cancer has had in her life. She explained the negative impact the disease had in her music career. It took a huge toll on her private and professional life.
According to Carly Simon, the music industry had very little compassion for her condition. She felt she were shunned for having cancer, playing a very big role her career during the years 1997 and 1998. What is very unusual in her case was the lack of support from friends while undergoing treatment.
She felt neglected and isolated during the period she was fighting cancer.
The Singer-songwriter and ’70s icon, found that her breast cancer diagnosis in 1997 gave her life a focal point. Here is a snippet of her 1998 interview with the New York Daily News:
“I feel stronger and more vital than ever,” she told the New York Daily News. “When you actually have a battle, it’s better than when you don’t know who to fight.”
Janice Dickinson, Former Supermodel, Had Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.
Former supermodel and reality TV star Janice Dickinson revealed to the Daily Mail in March 2016 that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer after a doctor detected a pea-size lump in her right breast. A biopsy determined she had early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a form of breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts.
She didn’t think it was serious at first, and thought it was a cosmetic surgery gone wrong. In her own words: “ I thought it was a botched boob job”. However, further investigation and later tests proved her wrong.
According to Dickinson, “Initially when the doctor found the lump, it hurt. It became quite painful when you touch it. That’s the point when I knew this is serious.”
Dickinson admitted she felt numb after the diagnosis. “ I was in a state of numbness – not denial, not pity – I just walked around just feeling numb because I was afraid for my children”In spite of her shock and fear, however, Dickinson said, “I am not gonna let that define me, the fear. I’m going to get through this; I’ll be just fine.”
She underwent two lumpectomy surgeries and had six weeks radiation therapy, which she described as very harrowing.
Dickinson’s has had a convoluted medical history and provided plenty of headlines for media outlets along the years. She has battled different conditions ranging from for anorexia, bulimia, alcoholism, and cosmetic surgery addiction.
Dickinson’s then-fiancé, now-husband, Robert “Rocky” Gerner, MD, a psychiatrist, commented that his usually voluble bride-to-be was quieter following her diagnosis: “She seems different. She now goes through times that she’s very silent and actually contemplating and meditating.”
The former model is now working as an ambassador for breast cancer and encouraging other women to check their breasts.
Designer Betsey Johson had a very bad tumor, diagnosed back in 2002.
She discovered her lump after she had her saline breast implants removed.
One of her implants leaked and she had surgery to have both removed. A few weeks after the removal, was doing her check up to make sure the scar was healing when she felt a very large, grape size lump, in the area.
She went for a mammogram and the result was positive for cancer. After her diagnosis in 2002, designer Betsey Johnson decided not to tell anybody about her cancer. The only exception was her 24 years old daughter, Lulu.
She was going to radiation every morning before heading to her show room. She kept her manager, employees and the press completely on the dark. Even her sister was oblivious of her condition.
She kept it secret from every single person surrounding her. Amazing!
Johnson feared that people were going to focus on her disease instead of her work and whatever else she had accomplished. Her greatest fear was that people were going to think she was going to die.
The fashion designer didn’t want the attention that comes with the disease. She didn’t want the sense of pity that follows. She just wanted to deal with it her way, pretending she wasn’t sick and not fighting breast cancer.
The designer says that she tried her best to deal with the realities of the disease matter-of-factly, instead of obsessively. “I’m not the type of person who dwells too much on bad things,” Johnson told USA Today. “I guess the only thing I’ve done differently is loosened up the reigns on my company and now I’m enjoying life more.”
Tierney was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2009. She had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy as part of her treatment. When Tierney went public and confirmed in July 2009 she had a tumor in her breast and needed surgery, she took a break from her acting career to focus on her health.
The actress was best known for her role as medical resident Abby Lockhart in NBC’s long-running hospital drama “ER” and was playing a new role on the series Parenthood, from NBC when she received the news.
The news were very shocking as in most cases. But in tierney’s case, the biggest scare wasn’t the disease’ it was the treatment. She feared the effects of chemotherapy far more than she feared cancer.
There were side effects, but for her surprise, they were less severe than she expected. Six months after her diagnosis, she went back to acting and resumed her career.
Tierney had a successful mastectomy, that left the margins very clean. The disease didn’t spread to other parts of her body. She felt very blessed and everyone around her thought it was over. That changed when the pathology report revealed that she had an aggressive HER2/neu positive type of cancer that required chemotherapy.
The actress feared that her life would be very restricted and miserable. She was afraid of side effects and the long lasting effects of chemo. For her surprise, in her particular case, none of her fears were true.
She was able to exercise moderately and was less wiped out and incapacitated than she initially feared. She had her share of side effects; Her hair fell out and experienced fatigue but didn’t had the nausea and didn’t lose her taste buds.
All in all, it was more manageable than she expected and believes that sharing her experience may prove helpful to other newly diagnosed patients.
Ever since her remission, she has been very active on her role as breast cancer advocate. She is very keen on sharing her personal experiences and talk about her journey. She worked with pharmaceutical company Amgen on the ‘Chemotherapy: Myths and Facts” campaign.
The campaign was designed to help educate the public about the real effects of chemotherapy, help debunk myths and change patients perceptions about this type of treatment. The actress wants to share everything she wishes she’d known when before and while undergoing treatment.
Above all else, Tierney wishes to help educate the patients, their families and public in general in her attempt to deal with the misconceptions that surround cancer that aren’t true.
Her advice to newly diagnosed patients: “Ask as many questions as you want to ask or feel comfortable asking. I think there are no stupid questions. And be as involved with your treatment as you can. The “Chemo: Myths or Facts” Website has links to patient support groups, like Stand Up 2 Cancer, as well as to resources like the American Cancer Society. So these are all medically based, fact-based Websites where people can go to get their information, instead of Googling “chemotherapy,” which can just freak you right out.”
Dame Maggie Smith
Dame Maggie Smith
When the 73-year-old actress Maggie Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, it was reported that she insisted on filming her sixth appearance as Professor McGonagall in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” even while undergoing radiation therapy. The Academy Award winner had chemotherapy and radiation after having a lump removed
The actress has avoided talking about the subject since her diagnosis, but whenever she does,she never holds back. In one of her interviews she said”
“Treatment leaves you so flat that I’m not sure I could go back to theatre work”
As anyone whose life has been affected by cancer knows, the treatment can be exhausting. Many cancer patients describe it as “worse than the cancer itself”.
The actress admitted that the disease and the treatment required can really slow you down, more so for patients diagnosed at later stages of their life. In her case, age certainly played a role on her energy levels, her recovery and the impact it had emotionally.
Cancer is emotionally draining for all patients, but elderly patients, seem to be less resilient and take longer to recover from sessions. Damie Maggie experienced pain and felt unwell during most of her treatment.
Contrasting with younger patients experiences, her chemotherapy was very peculiar, making her feel much worse than the cancer itself. She managed to get through, but fought hard and was able to survive.
Damie Maggie Smith is a fantastic role model. She is truly an inspiration for us all. Her positive attitude, her grace and her talent are true gifts that we should enjoy and embrace.
The author of many popular young adult books revealed her diagnosis in a 2012 blog post.
“We were supposed to leave for five weeks in Italy on July 29 – four of those weeks would be spent at an artists’ colony housed in a castle in Umbria where I was hoping to finish my new book. A castle!
Sound too good to be true?
Uh huh,” she writes.
“A visit to the radiologist on June 12 for a routine ultrasound (dense breast tissue) led to a core biopsy,” the post continues. Upon receiving the results from her biopsy, Blume, 74, tried to process her diagnosis.
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.”
Feminist and political activist Gloria Steinem was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986, soon after turning 50.
If you are a woman who was born in the 1970s or later, then you probably have Gloria Steinem to thank for something about your life. Steinem played a seminal roll in the Women’s Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, forever changing the landscape for women’s rights and equality.
She exposed sexism, dare to speak about her abortion during a period in which people were ashamed and afraid to address the topic and founded a magazine called Ms. Magazine. She was very courageous in confronting the public with the issues of domestic violence by publishing the first ever article on her magazine.
She underwent surgery and radiation, telling HBO, “The cancer served a real purpose, making me a little bit more conscious of time.”
The former First Lady was diagnosed with breast cancer following a mammogram in October 1987. After her diagnosis, former First Lady chose to have a mastectomy.
It was a controversial decision for the time, and although she received much criticism for it, she defended her choice.
She underwent a modified radical mastectomy. Her case didn’t require any further treatments, as her tumor was small and her cancer non-invasive. Mrs. Reagan never had a recurrence and stayed cancer free until her passing in 2016.
The reason why she receive most criticism, was based upon the fact that there were other options available for treating her condition, such as lumpectomy followed up with radiation for 8 weeks. This combination would allow her to save most of the non-cancerous part of her breast and have a better cosmetic result.
She went against public opinion and women health advocates at the time. Advocates believed that any woman with cancer would and should opt to save their breast. They though her decision would have an impact on generations to come and results have shown that this was the case.
”I couldn’t possibly lead the kind of life I lead, and keep the schedule that I do, having radiation or chemotherapy,” Mrs. Reagan said in a 1987 interview with Barbara Walters. ”There’d be no way. Maybe if I’d been 20 years old, hadn’t been married, hadn’t had children, I would feel completely differently. But for me it was right.”
Journalist Cokie Roberts’ bout with breast cancer only reiterated what she already knew. “I had learned the life lesson that life is short and do the things that are important long before I had cancer,” Roberts told Richmond (Va.) Magazine after her diagnosis in 2002. “I knew work is not important, family is, long before I had cancer.”
Her battle was very difficult but she was able to overcome the challenge.
Roberts advises young patients to learn as much as they possibly can about their diagnosis and condition. That will play an important and pivotal role on treatment options and making choices. As many other survivors, Roberts believe that finding support from other patients is very important as they are able to guide newly diagnosed patients during difficult parts of their journey.
Love and encouragement are essential in the path to recovery. Communication between loved ones and family is very important as it gives you strength to carry on.
She likes to stress that being diagnosed with breast cancer is not being handed a death sentence! There is life after breast cancer for most patients. Sure, it is a very difficult condition and a huge challenge, but one that you can overcome.
Never be afraid of having a mammogram. It is crucial to have mammograms and stay informed. It is better to receive bad news early than skipping mammograms. Early detection saves lives.
Early detection and education are the integral part of survivorship.
Jessica Saint Clair
Jessica Saint Clair
The Playing House star shared a powerful essay posted by Stand Up to Cancer on Monday, May 8.
She was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer at age 38. The day after her diagnosis, she scheduled a double mastectomy and signed up for aggressive chemotherapy treatment. The actress revealed she underwent a mastectomy and 16 rounds of chemotherapy in 2015.
She had a nipple sparing, one stage reconstruction surgery.
In the early stages after her diagnosis, the actress kept her condition secret during her treatment.
She didn’t feel ready to talk about back then.She needed time to digest the situation and get over the initial shock. Today, she is open and has no problem talking about her health publicly.
The actress is well aware of the fact that her treatment and the quality of her care are not the norm. She recognizes her luck and today helps fund breast cancer reconstruction after cancer.
“I used to joke that since breastfeeding my boobs looked like an old athletic sock with some loose change at the bottom, so when I felt a lump the size of a marble I knew something was terribly wrong,” she wrote.
“Every chemo session, they would pack me in ice, as Lennon puts it, like a ‘choice piece of holiday meat.’ They distracted me from the intense pain of the cold by reading aloud from old Oprah magazines and feeding me Teddy Grahams and Cheez-Its. I froze my scalp for eight hours using ‘cold caps’ to keep my hair from falling out (I only lost 30 percent).”
Thankfully, the 40-year-old is doing better than ever and is continuing to raise awareness through her show.
Edna Campbell, Basketball Player
Edna Campbell is a retired WNBA professional basketball player. She was a star player for the Sacramento Monarchs and 3 other teams, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and San Antonio Silver Stars, during her long career.
During her second season playing for Sacramento, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Campbell’s breast cancer fight is truly inspirational. Not only did she fight the disease and won that battle, but she continued to play professional basketball while undergoing treatment.
Edna said she felt “Shocked and Numb” when she got the news. The situation had a huge impact on her life and career. She played whenever she was able to and rested whenever she wasn’t feeling well and needed the break. And she didn’t stop there.
Campbell became the WNBA national spokesman in their anti-cancer campaigns in association with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and authored, “The Breast Cancer Recovery Manual” highlighting her personal feat and the recovery process.
Pat Battle, NBC Reporter
Pat Battle was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2010 during a routine mammogram.
She documented her journey in details, addressing the physical and emotional side effects she experienced during treatment. NBC network has filmed the day she went for her lumpectomy at Mt.Sinai Medical Center in NY.
Battle said that getting the news can be one of the most shocking moments in a person’s life. Sure, we know it can be cure and we can overcome it, but the impact remains. In her case it was diagnosed very early and she had great chances of surviving it.
She stresses the importance of yearly mammograms. Here is what she said in an interview on October 2010:
“It was very early breast cancer, but it was breast cancer. How different the odds could have been had I gambled with my health and passed up my yearly mammogram, as so many women do—which is why I bared all, and shared my personal journey…”
Pat Battle honored her family name and Battled breast cancer.
Such as Robin Roberts, Battle is a black female anchor who’s overcome the disease. She documented her story on “News 3 New York” for breast cancer awareness.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer, Civil Rights Activist
She’s the woman who was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Hamer not only fought for our civil rights, she also endured a battle with breast cancer.
Her significance as a civil rights leader came as an organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Unfortunately, she became sick with complications from diabetes, heart problems and breast cancer. We lost Hamer to heart tension in 1977.
Shirley Horn, Jazz Singer/Pianist
Horn was an extremely talented jazz singer and piano player, who drew crowds close with her unique style. The former jazz great has collaborated with the likes of Miles Davis and producers like Quincy Jones.
Horn battled health issues for great part of her adult life. In the early 2000’s her recordings and performances were radically reduced due to her health problems. First, diabetes took a huge toll on her life and career; next breast cancer. In 2002 Horn had her right foot amputated due to diabetes complications which impacted her ability to perform.
Without a foot her trademark improvisations had been compromised and she relinquished her keyboard duties. For the next few years she performed sitting in a chair facing the audience, without playing. She tried to get back in 2004, with the assistance of a prosthetic device that helped her to use the piano sustain pedal.
She underwent chemotherapy would not succumb to breast cancer as she would not succumb to popular music. But unfortunately, we lost her to diabetes in 2005.
The singer, known as The High Priestess Of Soul, fought a lengthy battle with breast cancer before passing away at the age of 70.
Simone thought cancer for six long years, trying to get back to health without success. Very few people knew how sick she really was as she carried on performing without letting the condition take control of her life.
Nina Simone died in her sleep at her home in Carry – le- Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhone, France on april 21, 2003 when her cancer spread to other vital organs
Danitra Vance, Comedian/Actress
This funny lady is best known as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the 11th season.
She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990 and underwent a single mastectomy. Her health improved and she went back to her life and work.
Unfortunately after a few movie roles, Vance’s breast cancer recurred in 1993 and she passed away in 1994. Before she did, she produced a skit, “The Radical Girl’s Guide to Radical Mastectomy.”
The Olympic figure skating gold medalist was diagnosed with cancer in January 1998.
Fleming was a professional athlete very aware of her body. Her body was her working tool and she usually felt when something was wrong. She had annual check ups and had a very solid post retirement fitness routine, which included running, weight lifting and ice skating sessions. Everything was ok, until she noticed a lump on her left breast.
At first, she thought it was a muscle injury. She noticed the lump while preparing for the national championships. While stretching in front of a mirror she saw the lump pop out on her chest. Immediately she knew something was wrong, but didn’t get alarmed as she had seen a doctor 2 weeks earlier.
Fleming waited, but two weeks later, the bump had not shrunk and she went back to her doctor. She had a needle biopsy, which wasn’t conclusive and had to return for a second biopsy. The sample confirmed the malignant nature of her tumor and she surgery scheduled.
Peggy underwent lumpectomy and six weeks radiation followed.
Fleming’s early detection made all the difference. She had Stage 1 tumor with her lymph nodes not being involved, she was able to avoid chemotherapy.
Despite her fitness and being strong, she wasn’t immune to side effects. Peggy felt tired and lack energy after radiation. She kept a less demanding fitness routine and went running with friends in her attempt to not only stay active but also keep her in good spirits.
Cancer takes a emotional toll on patients and it is important to try to find activities that will help them in their journey. In Fleming’s case, physical activity became a form of therapy. It helped her stay positive and release the stress.
The power of positive thinking helped ice skating icon Peggy Fleming win her battle against cancer. She said: “I do remember the dark sides, but I try not to dwell on them,” the Olympic gold medalist told TODAY. “There’s nothing I can do about them anymore. I can change the future. I can’t change the past.”
Peggy was fortunate to have her husband dermatologist Greg Jenkins help her select the best treatment option. She was very lucky to have his support and to have a close relationship with other members of the medical community in Northern California where she lived for more than 30 years.
She took a break from her very busy schedule to focus on her treatment and health. She reduced all professional related activities to the bare minimum and followed her treatment. Due to her professional athlete experience, she knew how important it was to focus on one activity. Progress is often achieved one step at time.
Marsha Hunt, Singer/Novelist
Hunt is known for moving to London, and beginning a career as a singer and model. After meeting Mick Jagger, they began a relationship and had a child. After that, Hunt took to writing. But in 2004, she was diagnosed with the cancer.
She had a complete mastectomy in Ireland. She went on to release another novel, “Undefeated” about her battle with the cancer.
Shirley Graham Du Bois
Shirley Graham Du Bois, Author and Playwright
Graham Du Bois, was an African American political activist, biographer and novelist playwright and advisor. Very much like her husband W.E.B Du Bois, wrote about race, but for children educational purposes as well. She married Du Bois in the early 1950s.
She is most admired for her commitment to her fight against racism and racial uplift commitment.
After moving to Ghana and then Egypt, she died from complications with breast cancer on the 27th of March of 1977 in Beijing, China.
Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris, Politician/Educator
Patricia Robert Harris deserve a special place in African-American history.
She spent most of her life breaking barriers to black women. She was the first black woman in the cabinet, working as secretary of Housing and Urban development followed by her appointment as Secretary of Housing, Education and Welfare during the Carter administration.
She was the first black woman to become an ambassador, Dean of a Law School and to serve as delegate to the United Nations..
Patricia Harris Roberts had all characteristics often associated with people born to make a difference. She was known for being very tough, honest and a demanding intellect. However, all her commitment and ethics were not enough to help her win her battle against cancer.
Unfortunately, Harris’ own health faded in the 1980s after being diagnosed and passing away from her battle with breast cancer. She died in 1985 at the age of 60
In her time, she had many political career firsts for women of color and later taught at George Washington University’s National Law Center.
Ernie Green Football Player
The former NFl running back, who played alongside Jim Brown for the Cleveland Browns in the 60’s, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2004.
For Green, breast cancer was a Championship game. To come out winner, he knew he had to be very strong, resilient and tough. There was nothing easy and there were a lot of unknowns.
He first noticed the lump on his right breast during a sleepless night. He felt it was unusual and the fact it was only one side of his chest, worried Green.
He went to see the doctor the very next day. His primary doctor thought it was a cyst, but want to remove it it before it could grow any further. He was not concerned about cancer initially due to the fact that during the visit the doctor said:“Ernie, I’ve been practicing medicine for 37 years and I’ve never had a male with breast cancer.”
After waking up from surgery, the doctor was standing next to him and deliver the good and the bad news: The tumor had been removed, but it was malignant!
Ernie’s sister had died from breast cancer. And the it was possible that his mother had also been a victim, although we wasn’t sure.
He was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. His battle with cancer was very hard and his experience with chemotherapy very unpleasant. As Green said” “My breast cancer treatments whipped my butt. I was throwing up from the eight sessions of chemotherapy and couldn’t get to the bathroom. The seven years of Tamoxifen was a trip! Oh the hot flashes. My wife kept fans in her purse and sometimes I’d borrow one. Della (Green’s wife) was always there for me, pushing me. I attribute my state of mind and health to her.”
Green has raised awareness about the disease and its impact not only on women, but men as well.
Historically, men with breast cancer felt compelled to keep it secret. There was a sense of shame and fear. Men often think they are invincible and breast cancer regarded as a woman disease. Being diagnosed with a woman disease is not an option.
Men must be aware that breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease and address the issue. When they have history in their family, they must recognized that they are part of the risk group and take the necessary steps to monitor any signs of development. There is no shame here.
Men must wake up to this reality, recognize that they can get breast cancer and can pass to their children too.
Green is a survivor and became an avid breast cancer advocate. He wants to change the face of Breast Cancer.
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