This past year it was estimated that 230,480 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States. Famous women are not spared from receiving this devastating diagnosis themselves — and many use their celebrity status to share their stories and inspire hope.
Here are a few of the inspiring and famous women who have fought and beat breast cancer:
Talented singer Melissa Etheridge was one of the first celebrities to talk openly about a breast-cancer diagnosis. She openly admitted that her chemotherapy was “hell” and that it tested her sanity, but she bravely bounced back after treatment and has become an important activist for breast-cancer awareness. She lobbies for continued research in the field and has helped raise money for breast-cancer charities.
Grease star and singer Olivia Newton-John had a struggle reaching her breast-cancer diagnosis. After feeling a lump, she went to her doctor for a mammogram. It came back negative. Then, a needle biopsy came back with a similar negative diagnosis. However, Newton-John could not overlook her sense that something was definitely wrong. It was only when a surgical biopsy was performed that the cancer was found. She has used this as a lesson when talking to other women about how important it is to listen to your gut and perform your own monthly breast exams.
Singer Sheryl Crow has inspired millions of women with her music and her strength. After surviving breast cancer, Crow became an advocate for women’s health. Crow has committed to living a less-stressful life and to eating a diet of whole foods, including vitamins like omega-3. She also stresses the importance of getting enough fiber and staying active.
Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. After sharing her diagnosis and beating her cancer, Kylie gave an emotional interview discussing her situation and shared that she was actually misdiagnosed initially. She used it as an opportunity to talk to other women about not being intimidated to speak up and ask for a second opinion — a life-saving lesson for women everywhere.
Funny girl Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. As the child of a breast-cancer survivor, she knew regular checkups were important, and so her cancer was caught very early on. Although the cancer was found in only one breast, Applegate opted for a double mastectomy because she is a carrier of BRCA1, “the breast-cancer gene,” and because her mother had suffered a recurrence. She never lost her wit during her endeavor and has been a strong advocate for breast-cancer awareness ever since.
The star of Nurse Jackie and The Sopranos has impressed people with her acting talent for years, and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to keep her disease under wraps while on set. Instead, Edie Falco focused on recovery, relied on family and friends, and committed to a healthy lifestyle. Her brush with cancer made her realize the importance of living in the moment, and she adopted a son after going into remission.
After Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer, she expressed gratitude to have found the disease early on thanks to a mammogram. Nixon stresses the importance of mammograms, while understanding that women may feel nervous or scared about having one. Ironically, the fear of worrying what the test might find can actually delay detection and make treatment of cancer that much more frightening.
Hilarious comic Wanda Sykes shared her breast-cancer diagnosis in a shocking revelation on national television. Known for her sharp wit and honest style, Sykes spoke openly about her diagnosis, including the importance of getting tested early and never neglecting mammograms. In fact, Sykes learned of her diagnosis only after she was preparing to undergo a breast-reduction surgery. She also discussed not being aware of her family history of breast cancer, underscoring why it is so important to be aware of our family histories and our genetic risks.
Millions were shocked when the youthful, vivacious E! host announced her breast-cancer diagnosis. Glittering in designer gowns on the red carpet, Giuliana Rancic appeared the very picture of youth and health, so it was shocking when she shared her diagnosis and revealed her decision to have a double mastectomy. Ever the professional, it wasn’t long before Rancic was back on the red carpet and her healthy, happy self. She is an inspiration for survivors everywhere who feel anxious when it comes time for formal wear or tight-fitting garments. She proves that breast cancer never has to take away a woman’s fashion sense or love of sexy clothes.
These inspiring breast-cancer survivors have a lot to teach women when it comes to surviving and rebuilding after treatment. Here’s to survivors everywhere!
For more information regarding breast cancer and the healing journey back to good health, visit our resources page.