The C-Word casts it’s ugly shadow on countless families every year. According to the American Cancer Society, over 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and nearly 600,000 people will die from cancer this year. The devastation that befalls a cancer diagnosis is unfathomable and one of the most difficult things that the human body can face. However, these five individuals have met their diagnoses with great courage and perseverance. Their positive attitudes and hopeful outlook have been an inspiration to the public who has watched each person bravely battle the second most common cause of death for Americans. Perhaps it is their attitudes that have kept them alive in spite of the odds. Although no cancer patient is ever truly in the clear of having a relapse, the individuals on this list have set an admirable example of how to handle such a devastating blow.
5. Robin Roberts
The daughter of a hardworking mother and one of the Tuskegee Airmen, Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, Robin Roberts was destined for greatness. She was born in Alabama but grew up in Pass Christian, Mississippi along with her three older siblings. Roberts took a liking to sports, specifically tennis and basketball, as a child and played while she attend Pass Christian High School. She was the class salutatorian when she graduated in 1979. She was offered a basketball scholarship at Louisiana State University but decided to attend Southeastern Louisiana University instead. It served as no surprise that she went on to graduate cum laude in 1983. Upon receiving her bachelors degree in Communication, Roberts went on to work as a sports anchor and reporter for a local news station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Roberts landed a big break in her career when she was hired as a Sportscaster for ESPN in 1990. Another big opportunity was waiting for her in 1995 when she was hired as a featured reporter for ABC News on Good Morning America. Roberts was promoted to co-anchor 10 years later in 2005. A fan favorite, Roberts stunned the world when she announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007; the good news was that it was detected early. Roberts endured surgery, eight chemotherapy treatments and finally 6 1/2 weeks of radiation treatments. Five years later Roberts was diagnosed with a rare disease of the bone marrow, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), that is often brought on radiation therapies that are used to treat cancer. She received a bone marrow transplant and used her public platform to bring attention to the need for donation of bone marrow for people with her illness. On the day that Roberts announced her second devastating diagnosis, The Be The Match Registry Program experienced an increase of 1,800% in its registration for donors! Roberts is currently in remission and continues to serve as a beacon of hope for cancer patients and bone marrow disease sufferers alike.
4. Chuck Pagano
Born Charles David, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano began his coaching career with the University of Southern California Trojans in 1984. He would go on to coach at the University of Miami, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Boise State University and East Carolina University before becoming a coach in the NFL. Born in Boulder, Colorado, Chuck’s brother, John, is the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. Pagano was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia at the beginning of the season in September 2012. Memorable footage of the Colt’s players shedding tears with their heads bowed in sadness flashed across television screens nationwide upon the announcement of the horrible news. Immediately, Pagano’s players rallied around he and his family, spawning a movement they called ‘Chuckstrong,’ borrowing a page from Lance Armstrong‘s popular Livestrong campaign. Colt’s players and even a couple of cheerleaders shaved their heads in show of support for the beloved coach. Pagano took an indefinite leave of absence to undergo three months of chemotherapy. During his absence, the Colt’s were inspired by their coach’s battle and against all odds nabbed a spot in the playoffs. Pagano completed treatment and was met with a hero’s welcome upon his return to coaching the Colt’s on Christmas eve 2012. Pagano is currently in remission.
3. Rudy Giuliani
He was born & raised in Brooklyn, New York and named Rudolph William Louis Giuliani but later called Rudy for short. Giuliani was an only child and when he was seven his family moved from Brooklyn to Garden City South. His father, Harold Giuliani, had mob ties by way of his brother-in-law and allegedly moved to ensure that his young son would not get caught up in the “family business.” Fortunately for young Rudy, his father’s plan worked. Although his family left Brooklyn when he was young, Giuliani went on to attend high school there at Bishop Loughlin Memorial. He graduated in 1961 and attended Manhattan College in the Bronx where he majored in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. Giuliani briefly considered becoming a priest but later changed his mind and decided to pursue a law degree instead. He finished his undergraduate studies in 1965, graduating cum laude. He completed his Juris Doctorate in 1968 at the New York University School of Law in Manhattan where he again graduated cum laude. Giuliani worked as a law clerk after graduating. Over the years he worked to further his political career and was elected Mayor of New York in 1994. Just one year before the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which were undoubtedly career defining for Giuliani, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April 2000. His father died of prostate cancer in 1981 at the age of 73. Giuliani opted to treat his cancer with four months of hormone therapy followed by a low dose of radiation treatment. After intense treatment, Giuliani doctor’s declared him cancer free and he remains in remission.
2. Giuliana Rancic
Born in Italy, her family moved to Bethesda, Maryland when she was a young girl. She learned how to speak English by watching the news daily. She says watching the news inspired her to be a news anchor. Rancic attended Walt Whitman High School and received her bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Maryland. She went on to receive a Master’s in journalism from American University in Washington, D.C. In September 2007, she married entrepreneur Bill Rancic and the newlyweds were offered a reality television show not long after their wedding. After being married for two years, the couple stated on their show that they were ready to have a baby. After a little more than a year, the hopeful couple had yet to conceive and decided to try alternative methods. After two failed attempts at Invitro Fertilization (one ended in a miscarriage), Rancic’s doctor recommended that she have a mammogram. She was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in October 2011. She immediately had a lumpectomy followed by radiation treatments. Less than two months later, Rancic decided to undergo a double mastectomy to ensure that the cancer would not return. In August 2012, the Rancic’s had a son, Edward Duke.
1. Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas has had a highly decorated acting career portraying memorable characters like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987) and Steven Taylor in A Perfect Murder (1997). Audiences have come to expect top quality performances from the famed actor. What people did not expect was an oral cancer diagnosis or the controversial way in which Douglas seemed to think he got the cancer. He was diagnosed with Stage IV oral cancer in 2010 and during an interview for The Guardian Douglas alluded to the fact that he got oral cancer from performing oral sex on a woman with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Although a representative for Douglas said that he was misquoted, transcripts of the interview (please, I beg of you-read them yourself) tell a slightly different story. Basically, Douglas’ representative says that he was speaking in general terms regarding oral cancer and how it can be transmitted, not stating specifically how he got cancer (to-MAY-toe, to-MAH-toe). He and his wife of 14 years, Catherine Zeta-Jones separated not long after the interview went public. Douglas has since undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments to treat the cancer and he remains in remission. Also, he and Zeta-Jones have since reconciled.