Cancer can affect anyone, no matter how old they are—or how famous. Many celebrities have suffered from various forms of cancer. Some battled life threatening tumors, while many were fortunate enough to have their cancer diagnosed before the disease could be spread too far.
Detecting cancer early can save a life. It is important to have regular screenings and medical checkups. Many of these celebrities are still alive today because they went to the doctor at the first sign that something was wrong, or took preventative measures to make sure that the cancer did not spread. In fact, you may never have even realized that some of these celebrities have had cancer.
Janice Dickinson, a reality TV star and former supermodel, revealed in March 2016 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor found a pea-sized lump in one of her breasts, and a biopsy confirmed that she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). Fortunately, the cancer, which started in her milk ducts, was in its early stages.
Dickinson spoke about her diagnosis, saying“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.” Fortunately, the doctors gave her a good prognosis since they found the cancer so early.
The comedic actor known for such films as Zoolander and Night at the Museum revealed in late 2016 that he was a cancer survivor. He discussed his battle with prostate cancer on Howard Stern’s radio show and also wrote an essay describing his illness on Medium.
He was diagnosed back in June 2014, but did not disclose his diagnosis to the public for more than two years, waiting until he was officially in remission. Stiller was surprised by the diagnosis of prostate cancer, saying “it came out of the blue for me.” Even healthy people can be diagnosed with cancer.
On November 25, 2016, Andy Cohen revealed on Live with Kelly that he had been diagnosed with melanoma. His was a diagnosis that proved the importance of having anything suspicious checked out. Chances are, a mole or discolored patch of skin are nothing, but once in a while that spot turns out to be cancer.
On the show, Andy thanked Kelly Ripa for urging him to see a doctor. He had a black mark on his lip which Kelly urged him to have checked out by a dermatologist. Cohen said that he followed up on her advice and that now “it’s all fine.”
The star of hit television shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed shared her breast cancer diagnosis with the world on August 19, 2015. She also revealed that she was suing her former business manager. He was supposed to maintain her insurance, but due to his failing to pay health insurance premiums, Shannen’s coverage lapsed. Because of this, Shannen’s cancer was diagnosed later than it would have been had she been insured.
Her lawsuit against her business manager said that the cancer was “metastatic to at least one lymph node,” a diagnosis which makes her breast cancer more difficult to treat. Early detection is incredibly important.
Andrea Mitchell was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2011 after her annual screening. The NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent told viewers, “we discovered it in the earliest stage, it hadn’t spread, and I’m already back at work with a terrific prognosis.” She urged women to go to the doctor for an annual breast screening.
She became the subject of criticism for telling her viewers that “this disease can be completely curable if you find it at the right time,” as many people did not think her case was representative of most women who are diagnosed with cancer. While cancer is not always curable, however, it is true that the prognosis is significantly better for those who are diagnosed early on.
Many people think that breast cancer only affects women, but men can also be diagnosed with this form of cancer. Peter Criss, of the group KISS, told CNN in 2009 that he felt like “the luckiest man on the planet” after beating breast cancer.
He found a lump in his left breast two years before the interview, but got to a doctor in time and avoided the disease spreading. Since his diagnosis, he has published an autobiography and has worked on raising awareness of male breast cancer. While the disease is more commonly found in women, men should also be aware that they can be susceptible to breast cancer.
Sandra Lee, a celebrity chef and girlfriend of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, revealed in May 2015 that she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). The cancer was found after a routine mammogram, and she had a lumpectomy at first before later having a double mastectomy in order to make sure the cancer did not spread.
She urged the public to start screening mammograms in a woman’s twenties or thirties, even though the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends waiting until the age of 50. She said, “if I would have waited, I probably wouldn’t even be sitting here.”
This actress had a double mastectomy following her diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma. Rita Wilson, who is married to Tom Hanks, told People magazine of her diagnosis in April 2015. She had been monitored for the disease, also known as LCIS, for quite a while.
Fortunately, the monitoring helped save her life, as did her insistence on thorough screening. An early test came back negative, but the actress still felt like something was not quite right and demanded a second opinion, which led to her official diagnosis. The double mastectomy removed the cancer from her body, and Rita did not need to have any radiation of chemotherapy.
During her annual mammogram in June 2014, former Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden received a negative result. However, a follow-up ultrasound revealed a tumor hiding in her right breast which was later confirmed to be cancer. The mammogram did not detect it as Joan’s breasts have dense, fibrous tissue.
Joan wrote in her blog, “I sat there stunned—how could this be? I considered myself fit and healthy, I get checked faithfully every year, and I didn’t have a history of breast cancer in my family.” She is using her experience to advocate for the importance of cancer screening and early detection.
Many people do not know it, but Mark Ruffalo had a brain tumor in 2001. It was found after he had a dream that he had a tumor. It bothered him so much that he went to the doctor and had them examine him. He had a surgery to remove the tumor and recovered from it successfully.
He later told The Guardian, “the whole experience of getting close to mortality changed my perspective. I thought I deserved more, and I wasn’t grateful for all the great shit that had happened to me. After the brain tumor happened, I realized I love acting, I’ve always loved it, I may never get a chance to do it again.”
Hugh Jackman may play the nearly invincible Wolverine in the movies, but that does not mean he is impervious to cancer. In 2013, he was diagnosed with skin cancer after discovering Basal Cell Carcinoma on his nose. He has had surgery to remove the cancerous cells and now gets regularly checked.
He told the Associated Press that he is “realistic” about the possibility of the cancer returning, saying that “it’s more than likely that I’ll have at least one more but probably many more, which is not uncommon for an Aussie, particularly from English stock, growing up in Australia where I don’t remember ever being told to put sunscreen on.”
Giuliana Rancic revealed her diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer in October 2011. The former E! News host and star of the show Giuliana & Bill had gotten a mammogram which revealed the tumor. A year later, she had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery performed.
She later launched an initiative called Fab-U-Wish which grants wishes to women who are undergoing breast and ovarian cancer. The initiative helps provide support to women who are battling cancer, something that is very much needed at such a difficult time. Giuliana turned her struggle into a positive experience for many other women.
The daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Christina Applegate knew that she had an increased risk of being diagnosed herself. The actress has received mammograms since the age of 30, and learned that she had breast cancer in 2008 after having an MRI.
Rather than risking the disease spreading, Christina chose to undergo a double mastectomy. She later started an organization called Right Action for Women, a service which provides high-risk women with MRIs. She told WebMD “When I was able to find my cancer in the stage I did, my passion for wanting to do something for these women was beyond what I could express.”
The Sopranos star was diagnosed with breast cancer while starring as Carmela on the hit TV show. She kept her diagnosis a secret while going through chemotherapy, only revealing her battle to the public after she was in remission.
She later told health.com that “around February 2004, when I realized cancer wasn’t going to kill me, the answer was clear. For years I’d been waiting to start a family, but surviving cancer has a way of making you re-prioritize. I was 40. And I was single. But it was time. So I began the adoption process.” Fortunately, Edie’s health scare had a happy ending.
Michael C. Hall
In 2010, Michael C. Hall revealed that he had been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma for a while and that the cancer was already in remission and that he was nearly done with treatment for the illness. He continued filming on the television show Dexter and has remained in good health since the cancer went into remission.
He received a lot of support from fans, telling ABC News “It’s an invitation to be grateful for what I have.” Cancer can be scary, but when it is diagnosed early it is much easier to beat and can also be a blessing in disguise, as Michael C. Hall shows.
MTV aired “The Tom Green Cancer Special” in May of 2000, chronicling Tom Green’s battled with testicular cancer. The show included footage from Tom’s surgery to remove the cancerous cells. Tom Green would go on to write a song called “Feel Your Balls,” telling people of the importance of screening for cancer.
He told US magazine “The weird part is how quickly all of this has happened. In three months, I found out I had cancer. I got rid of cancer, and now I’m recovering from cancer. And the truth is, I don’t have cancer anymore. I want people to know that it’s gone. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been so public. I want to raise awareness among young guys who don’t ordinarily think about cancer. Check yourself every day.”
Another cancer survivor, Wanda Sykes was diagnosed in 2011 after a breast reduction surgery. That surgery ended up saving her life as they found she had early stage breast cancer, or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Wanda had a family history of cancer on her mother’s side and decided not to take any chances.
She decided to have a double mastectomy performed, telling People magazine that she “just wanted the best odds. I made my decision because I love life.” While she could have had a lumpectomy, a lump in one breast means that it is more likely for one to be found in the other breast at a later date.
Mr. T is the type of guy who always seems completely invincible. In 1995, as he was removing an earring, he felt a bump. He made an appointment with a dermatologist and a biopsy revealed that he had T-Cell Lymphoma. He later commented on the irony of the name of his illness, telling Coping magazine, “Cancer with my name on it—personalized cancer.”
After beating the illness, he said, “I pity the fool who just gives up. We all gonna die eventually from something or other, but don’t be a wimp. Put up a good fight. Don’t sit around waiting on death. We can be tough. We can be determined. Go out and have some fun and make death find you! We can be living with cancer, not dying from it. We can be cancer survivors.”
The singer revealed that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. While she has made a full recovery, she was later diagnosed with a brain tumor although she said it “wasn’t serious.” She continues to speak out about cancer and her experiences, stressing the importance of regular screenings and early diagnosis.
She receives an MRI every six months to monitor the brain tumor. Her breast cancer went into remissions after a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. Cheryl told The Mirror in 2014 that the cancer “forced me really to look at who I was and the line of people I took care of. I was at the bottom of my list and never said no to anybody.”
The stunning actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie suffered a terrible loss when her mother Marcheline Bertrand succumbed to cancer in 2007. She also lost a grandmother and an aunt to the disease. So it was a relatively easy decision for Jolie, who has six children, to undergo a preventative double mastectomy in order to avoid the same tragic outcome for herself.
When she was 37 years old, Jolie learned she had the defective BRCA1 gene, which is a frequent contributor to both breast and ovarian cancer. She opted to be proactive and had her ovaries removed along with the mastectomies. In an interview, Jolie told the Today show, “You never know what a reaction is – you have to just make the choices you make in life. I made the choices I made because I believed they were right for me.”