Cancer has a pretty scary reputation. And with the number of great people the world has lost due to its power, it’s no wonder. But these 15 celebrities were able to break free of cancer’s shadow and regain the power it stole from them, with remarkable personal stories of strength and resilience, giving hope to anyone facing the disease that a diagnosis does not always mean the end of the road.
15. Ewan McGregor
The Moulin Rouge star had a cancer scare back in 2008, when he had a mole removed from below his right eye. McGregor kept in good spirits about it to the press, though. He joked, “It was great fun having skin cancer. I really enjoyed it.” He undoubtedly doesn’t miss it, though, since he is now cancer-free.
14. Sofia Vergara
“When you are a cancer survivor, your priorities in life change,” Sofia Vergara told Extra about her battle with thyroid cancer. The Modern Family star was diagnosed in 2002, but is now thankfully in remission. Regarding advice she has for anyone currently battling the big C, Vergara says, “Live day to day and try not think too much about it.” Whatever she does works because the sexy siren remains cancer free over a decade later.
13. Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue made headlines for something other than music in 2005, when she came out publicly about her bout with cancer. She was diagnosed the same year and after a grueling eight months of chemotherapy and surgery, she proudly announced that she was cancer-free.
12. Mr. T
The world was shocked when Mr. T was diagnosed with a rare type of T-cell lymphoma, in 1995. He remarked on the unfortunate coincidence saying, “Can you believe that? A cancer with my name on it… Personalized cancer.” After a round of radiation, Mr. T was given the all clear, only for the cancer to return a year later. He underwent chemotherapy and went into remission, but says that it’s a daily choice to continue to fight.
11. Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, but waited nearly two years to go public with her story, saying she feared the stigma involved. After coming forward with her battle and her mother’s battle, who also had breast cancer, Nixon went on to become a breast cancer activist, working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
10. Fran Drescher
Everyone’s favorite nasally nanny announced that she was diagnosed with Stage 1 uterine cancer in 2000, after battling a tough misdiagnoses for two years. After undergoing a hysterectomy procedure, Drescher was cancer-free and went on to form the Fran Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer Foundation.
9. Suzanne Somers
The actress turned diet and fitness fanatic, also turned into a hormone activist after her battle with breast cancer that she discovered after a routine mammogram in 2000. Suzanne Somers opted to forgo chemotherapy and instead, chose to treat with using a combination of conventional radiation and the homeopathic therapy Iscador, which is a European mistletoe extract.
8. Olivia Newton John
Olivia Newton John won the hearts of her fans after her role as Sandy, in the classic film, Grease and then went onto reinvent herself as the musical-fitness queen of the 1980s with her hit ‘Let’s Get Physical’. So, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, John didn’t hesitate on tackling the disease head on. She is now cancer-free and donates a large portion of her fortune to support cancer organizations.
7. Robert De Niro
As far as Hollywood goes, Robert De Niro is the stuff that legends are made of. He has graced the big screen for decades, starring in everything from war dramas to mobster flicks. His tough guy persona is what made his announcement of prostate cancer so surprising in 2003. But it’s also why his successful surgery and recovery wasn’t surprising at all.
6. Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge announced to the world that she had breast cancer in 2004, and that she planned to fight for her life, even harder than she fought for her musical career. She underwent chemotherapy and a lumpectomy before famously taking to the stage with her freshly bald head, due to hair loss from treatment, to rock out and show the world that she would never allow the cancer to win. And it didn’t.
5. Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong’s reputation took a major hit when it was discovered that after winning the Tour de France, an astonishing seven times, that the legendary cyclist had been using performance enhancing drugs all along. But, none of that takes away from Armstrong’s incredible fight against cancer when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, in 1996, which had spread to his brain and lungs. His prognosis was grim, but he fought it head on and won. He also helped raise a massive amount of awareness by becoming an activist for the Livestrong Foundation.
4. Sharon Osbourne
Although she was known as Ozzy Obsourne’s wife for decades, Sharon Osbourne broke out from his shadow and made a name for herself in the spotlight. But when she was diagnosed with colon cancer and only given a 33% survival prognosis in 2002, she had a new fight to take on. And she did. Not only did Obsourne beat the disease, but she went on to start the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program at Cedars Sinai Hospital in L.A.
3. Sheryl Crow
Romantically linked to Lance Armstrong, rocker Sheryl Crow began raising money and awareness for cancer, years before she was diagnosed herself. After finding out that she had breast cancer in 2006, Crow was very open about her battle and underwent a minimally invasive surgery and radiation, which did the trick. Crow said that the diagnosis changed her life and made her adopt a clean diet and lifestyle to maintain her health.
2. Christina Applegate
The world was shocked when actress Christina Applegate announced that she underwent a radical double mastectomy, after doctors found cancerous lumps in one of her breasts in July 2008. Her surgery was a success, however, and she went on to become a very involved cancer prevention activist and bringing hope and support to survivors and those battling the disease everywhere.
1. Giuliana Rancic
With perhaps the most public of all celebrity cancer fights, Giuliana Rancic was shocked to discover she had breast cancer while undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment, in 2011. The E! News host listened to the suggestions of doctors and had a double lumpectomy with radiation. But when it was discovered that the cancer was more aggressive than originally thought, the actress decided to undergo a double mastectomy, all of which was documented on her E! reality show, Giuliana and Bill. Rancic not only beat the disease, but was able to have her first son by using a gestational carrier, marking the ending to a very dark chapter in her life.