Breast cancer is quickly becoming one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States, with both men and women , young and old, falling victim to the disease.
This year alone, nearly 300,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer. They will undergo surgeries, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. They will suffer through nausea, hair loss, bone and muscle pain, weight loss, severe fatigue, and dozens of other side effects as they battle breast cancer. Fortunately, many will survive the ordeal: The survival rate for those diagnosed with breast cancer up to stage III is over 70%.
Within this group of courageous survivors are several celebrities. We often look up to our favourite celebs, as we aim to emulate their values, lifestyles and attitudes. That’s why it might be empowering for many to know that there are those A-listers who fought – or are currently fighting – breast cancer.
10. Cynthia Nixon
Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon is no stranger to cancer. At the very early age of 12 she witnessed her mother battle and survive breast cancer. And in 2006, Nixon received her own breast cancer diagnosis after her yearly mammogram detected a lump in her breast.
The star chose to keep her diagnosis very private, telling only her partner, children, and those closest to her. Nixon underwent a lumpectomy and six and a half weeks of radiation therapy. Though Cynthia Nixon remained silent about her breast cancer diagnosis during her treatment, she is now using her star power for breast cancer awareness as an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
9. Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John, who is best known for her role as Sandy in Grease, proved that following your instincts can be the best medicine. After a self breast exam, Newton-John found a suspicious lump in her breast. However, both an MRI and a needle biopsy came back negative for breast cancer. But Olivia Newton-John wasn’t convinced that she was cancer free. So, she followed her gut and asked for further testing.
A surgical biopsy proved that the star’s instincts were right and in 1992 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy. Today, the actress has devoted much of her life to supporting cancer patients. She has worked hand in hand with Austin Health in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center. The facility provides support for patients diagnosed with cancer.
8. Peter Criss
Yes, you read the name right. Peter Criss, the drummer of the legendary rock band KISS, battled breast cancer. In 2007, after Criss found a suspicious and painful lump in his chest, he saw his doctor and underwent several tests. A nodule was found, which was suspected to be benign. However, after biopsying the lump in February of 2008, it was discovered to be cancerous.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Criss underwent surgery to remove the entire tumor. Completely free of cancer, the rocker has a message for men everywhere. “Don’t sit around playing Mr. Tough Guy… just go get checked out. It’s not like you’re losing your manhood.”
7. Christina Applegate
After finding a lump in her breast at the age of 36, Christina Applegate chose to have a bilateral mastectomy followed by several reconstructive surgeries. In part, the star’s decision came from testing positive for the BRCA1 gene, a genetic mutation that greatly increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. It also came from the support of her mother, Nancy Priddy, who survived breast cancer.
The actress credits her recovery from breast cancer to early screenings as well as a special type of MRI, which is able to detect cancer cells before they form into tumors. Applegate knows that the expensive test is not a reality for all women, so she has started a foundation to help high-risk women with medical costs.
6. Andrea Mitchell
As NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell is used to delivering news about people from all over the world. But, in September of 2007, the journalist was forced to deliver news of a more personal matter. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to the then 64-year-old host of Andrea Mitchell Reports, the early stage cancer was caught during her yearly mammogram. After undergoing treatment and returning to work, Mitchell had a message for women: “For you women out there and the men who love you, screening matters. Do it. This disease can be completely curable if you find it at the right time.”
5. Wanda Sykes
In 2011, comedian Wanda Sykes revealed that she had been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ – a non invasive form of breast cancer – in her left breast. According to Sykes, the cancer was found during her breast reduction surgery. After receiving her diagnosis, Sykes says she had a choice: she could come back to the doctors every three months to check the cancer’s growth or remove the cancer before it was able to grow.
4. Giuliana Rancic
As the star of the seven-season long reality TV show, Giuliana & Bill, and an E! News anchor, Giuliana Rancic is used to the public eye. She has documented everything from her marriage to Bill Rancic to a long bumpy road of infertility. But in October of 2011, Rancic showed the world the heartbreak of discovering she had breast cancer. A cancerous tumor was found during a doctor ordered mammogram before her third round of IVF. The Italian-American star initially chose to have a lumpectomy, however the surgery failed to remove all of the cancer cells. With her husband by her side, Rancic had a double mastectomy and immediate reconstructive surgery. Now, over three years later, the star remains cancer free and is the proud mother of a baby boy named Duke.
3. Robin Roberts
In 2007, during a self-breast exam, Robin Roberts, a co-anchor on Good Morning America, found a lump in her breast. She immediately had a mammogram, ultrasound, and needle biopsy. The tests confirmed that the tumor was not only cancerous, but a very aggressive form of breast cancer called triple-negative cancer. Roberts, who was 46-years-old at the time, underwent a partial mastectomy and then an aggressive course of chemotherapy. Since battling breast cancer, Robin Roberts has used her platform as a daily news anchor to advocate for early detection practices.
2. Joan Lunden
Another Good Morning America, anchor, Joan Lunden, revealed just recently that she has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. The 63-year-old wife and mother is currently undergoing chemotherapy to shrink two tumors in her breasts. When her chemotherapy is complete, Lunden will undergo a lumpectomy to remove the remaining cancer cells. Joan Lunden has not allowed her breast cancer diagnosis to change her optimistic outlook. She also hasn’t allowed the diagnosis to slow her down. Lunden recently appeared completely bald on the cover of People magazine.
1. Melissa Etheridge
While touring, during the summer of 2004, Melissa Etheridge felt sick and fatigued. When she found a lump in her left breast she returned home to Los Angeles, CA to consult her doctor. After a biopsy, Etheridge received the devastating news that she had breast cancer. Etheridge underwent surgery to remove the 4-centimeter tumor from her breast. Shortly after she had another biopsy, this time of her sentinel lymph node. The tests confirmed that the cancer had spread. Melissa Etheridge had 14 lymph nodes removed and was treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. At the end of her final round of chemotherapy, Etheridge was asked to sing in a tribute to Janis Joplin at the Grammy Awards. The star accepted and took the stage. Completely bald, she reclaimed her place on stage after a hard fought victory over breast cancer.