Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. People from all walks of life battle with the disease, including celebrities. Many have spoken out about their own battles.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus went public with her breast cancer diagnosis in September 2017 via Instagram. Nearly one year later, she had successfully beaten the illness and returned to work on her acclaimed HBO series, Veep.

On Good Morning America in 2019, Louis-Dreyfus said that she wants to help other women going through the same health battle. “It sounds kind of corny, but there’s something about after you’ve walked through something like this, which is such a crisis, to be able to help someone who’s then going through,” the Seinfeld alum said. “It’s very, sort of, comforting to yourself in a weird way. It really is something that I’m happy to do. It gives me a lot of energy and a good feeling, for sure.”

Cynthia Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. When she was a child, the Sex and the City alum’s mother, Ann, successfully battled this disease as well.

Two years after her diagnosis, Nixon revealed that she was cancer-free. The former New York gubernatorial candidate later became an advocate for breast cancer awareness by becoming an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

“I want them most to hear me saying that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” she said on Nightline in 2008. “So, the only thing to really be afraid of is if you don’t go get your mammograms, because there’s some part of you that doesn’t want to know, and that’s the thing that’s going to trip you up. That’s the thing that could have a really bad endgame.”

Meanwhile, Wanda Sykes revealed in 2011 that her breast cancer was caught in the early stages. She underwent a double mastectomy to eliminate her risk.

“I had real big boobs, and I just got tired of knocking over stuff,” the comedian said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show at the time. “Every time I eat … Oh, lord. I’d carry a Tide stick everywhere I go. My back was sore, so it was time to have a reduction. It wasn’t until after the reduction that, in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast. I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer.”

The New Adventures of Old Christine alum continued, “I have a lot of breast cancer history on my mother’s side of the family. I had both breasts removed … Now I have zero chance of having breast cancer.”

Scroll down to learn about other famous breast cancer survivors.

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Olivia Newton-John

In 1992, the Grease actress was diagnosed with breast cancer but she recovered the next year. She battled cancer again in 2013 and 2017. Twenty-eight years after initially facing the disease, she launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation in October 2020 to help fight breast cancer.

John Photography/Shutterstock

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Giuliana Rancic

The E! News personality confirmed she had breast cancer in October 2011. She was diagnosed while undergoing a mammogram before undergoing another round of IVF. That December, she underwent a double mastectomy.  

Just weeks after the procedure, Rancic opened up about the aftermath on Today. “It was definitely hard,” she said at the time. “I knew this was going to be a tough surgery. I in no way want to minimize it. Yes, I’m two and a half weeks out, [but] my gosh … Up until a week and a half ago, it was hell. It was horrible.”

Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Melissa Etheridge

The “Come to My Window” singer was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2004. Not only did she beat the disease the following year, but she’s become a major advocate for awareness. She penned related songs, including “I Run for Life,” and appeared in the 2010 breast cancer documentary 1 a Minute

Peter Brooker/Shutterstock

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Nearly a year after she revealed her diagnosis — “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one,” she wrote on Instagram in September 2017 — the Veep star revealed she’d beaten the disease. Returning to film the last season of her hit HBO show, she told the Associated Press, “I feel good. I feel strong. I’ve got energy and, yeah, back to my old tricks. It feels like I never left.”

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Christina Applegate

Though her breast cancer was found early, the actress chose to have a double mastectomy in 2008 because she tested positive for the breast cancer gene, BRCA1. “I didn’t want to go back to the doctors every four months for testing and squishing and everything,” the actress told Good Morning America that year, adding that the choice “was a tough one.” 

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Cynthia Nixon

In 2006, the actress, who had recently finished her run as Miranda on Sex and the City, was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram. Nixon, who later launched a gubernatorial campaign in New York, underwent surgery and six-and-a-half-weeks of radiation — revealing her battle in 2008 once she had become a breast cancer survivor. “I didn’t really want to make it public while I was going through it,” Nixon, whose mother also beat breast cancer, told Nightline in 2008. “I didn’t want paparazzi at the hospital, that kind of thing.”

INSTAR Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Maura Tierney

When she found a lump at the age of 44, the Affair actress almost didn’t seek help. “I was so, so scared of going to the doctor. I felt something, and my boyfriend at the time made me go,” she later told Parade. “He said, ‘You’ve got to take care of this,’ because I was afraid. That’s the one thing I will say: Don’t be afraid to go to the damn doctor. Just go!” 

INSTAR Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Kylie Minogue

The Australian singer received her diagnosis in 2005 in the midst of a worldwide tour. She underwent a partial mastectomy as well as chemotherapy and radiation before her doctors declared her cancer-free a year and a half later. “Someone had said to me at the time, ‘You need to be a little bit selfish,’” she told 60 Minutes in 2014. “And that’s what I did.’”

Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Wanda Sykes

During follow-up care for a breast reduction surgery in 2011, the comedian’s doctors discovered she had stage zero breast cancer. Sykes decided not to take any chances, and underwent a preventive double mastectomy. Explaining her aggressive treatment decision to Ellen Degeneres, she noted, “Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it’s too late?”

Tara Ziemba/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Edie Falco

She was playing Carmela on The Sopranos when she was diagnosed, but kept her battle a secret even from most cast and crew. In 2004, more than four months after she’d received the all-clear, her publicist announced Falco was a breast cancer survivor. The Nurse Jackie alum later told Health that the experience inspired her to become a mother: “For years I’d been waiting to start a family, but surviving cancer has a way of making you reprioritize. I was 40. And I was single. But it was time. So I began the adoption process.”

Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Sheryl Crow

The singer underwent a lumpectomy and radiation after receiving her breast cancer diagnosis in 2006. A decade after she became a survivor, she noted, “The experience has informed my life in every possible way. Up until the point I was diagnosed, I was a person who made it my mission to please everyone. Then when I got breast cancer, I learned how to say no and listen to my instincts.” The “Every Day Is a Winding Road” singer is still dedicated to working with Stand Up to Cancer. 

Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Dame Maggie Smith

Filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince while undergoing chemotherapy was grueling, the British actress, who starred as Professor Minerva McGonagall, has admitted. “Some people say you have to fight cancer. But it was fighting me,” she explained nearly a decade after she received her 2008 diagnosis at the age of 73. “The cure was worse than the disease, and it left me totally exhausted and depressed.” But after she became a survivor, she came back full force and went on to play many memorable characters, including the dowager in Downton Abbey

Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Robin Roberts

The Good Morning America anchor announced on air in 2007 that she had breast cancer. She became a survivor before being diagnosed with the rare blood disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). After a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy, Roberts beat that too. “I definitely felt that I was getting another chance at life,” she said once she was in remission for five years.

Paul Zimmerman/WireImage/Getty Images

Celebrities Reveal What Got Them Through Their Breast Cancer Battles
Tig Notaro

Three days after her 2012 bilateral breast cancer diagnosis, the comedian launched her now-famous stand-up act, “Hello, I Have Cancer.” Her career reached new heights, and five years later, the One Mississippi star was officially in remission. In 2017, the mother of two with girlfriend Stephanie Allynne told Vice, “Every day I’m aware and lucky that I’m alive and that I have my little family.” 

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