22+ Celebrities Who Suffered Or Living with Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a long journey, from diagnosis to recovery. However, these 30 celebrities have spoken up to educate and give hope to others.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers. In 2020, almost 250,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Famous celebrities all around the globe have spoken up about their difficult journey and how their experience might help or inspire others with the same condition.

Here are some stories of the incredible celebrities who battled hard and have been resilient, even after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

1. Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn

The night before revealing her breast cancer diagnosis on social media, actor Olivia Munn experienced a severe panic attack. She struggled with the need to be strong and hopeful while also being realistic about the challenges ahead, including tough treatments and the potential impact on her future. Munn decided to offer practical advice, urging women to use the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, a free online test to determine their breast cancer risk in about five minutes. Despite having clear mammograms and no major BRCA gene mutations, Munn’s MRI and biopsies revealed aggressive cancer. Her post significantly increased visits to the tool’s website, fulfilling her goal to help others.

2. Shannen Doherty

Shannen Doherty

Shannen Doherty, living with stage 4 breast cancer, has shifted her priorities. On her podcast “Let’s Be Clear,” the 52-year-old actress shared how her illness has prompted her to reassess her life, now focusing on her mother. Doherty expressed a desire to make things easier for her mom, avoiding leaving behind excessive belongings. She discussed her past obsession with furniture and her dream of starting a horse rescue in Tennessee, which she now plans to downsize. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and went into remission two years later. However, in 2020, Doherty revealed that the cancer had returned.

3. Mathew Knowles

Mathew Knowles

Mathew Knowles, father of Solange Knowles and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, revealed he had breast cancer in July 2019. He has highlighted the significance of genetic testing and has advocated for inclusive terminology to support men with the disease. Knowles first revealed his diagnosis on “Good Morning America” during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Reflecting on his experience, he emphasized the need for better health awareness, especially among Black men. After being diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer, Knowles underwent a mastectomy and discovered through genetic testing that he carries the BRCA2 gene mutation, increasing his risk for various cancers.

4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Emmy-winning comedic actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced in September 2017 that she is battling breast cancer and emphasized the need for universal healthcare. The 56-year-old, known for her role as Selina Meyer on HBO’s “Veep,” shared the news on social media, noting that one in eight women get breast cancer, and she is now one of them. She was diagnosed the day after winning an Emmy. She expressed gratitude for her supportive family, friends, and excellent union-provided insurance but highlighted the disparity in healthcare access for other women. HBO revealed she received her diagnosis a day after winning her sixth consecutive Emmy for “Veep.” The network assured that her diagnosis did not influence the decision to end the show after its next season. Louis-Dreyfus gained fame in the 1990s for her Emmy-winning role as Elaine Benes on NBC’s “Seinfeld.”

5. Joan Lunden

Joan Lunden

Joan Lunden, former co-host of “Good Morning America” for 17 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2014 and has started chemotherapy. The 63-year-old shared the news with host Robin Roberts, who also battled breast cancer, and on social media. Lunden, who co-hosted GMA from 1980 to 1997, decided to discuss her diagnosis publicly because she has always shared her personal and professional journey with her audience. Diagnosed after an ultrasound revealed a tumor in her right breast, Lunden aims to honor her late father, a cancer surgeon, by inspiring others to prioritize their health.

6. Giuliana Rancic

Giuliana Rancic

In 2011, entertainment reporter Giuliana Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer. She and her husband, Bill, were filming a reality show about their lives as newlyweds, but the focus shifted to her health crisis, infertility, a double mastectomy, and recovery. Giuliana, surprised by the diagnosis at 36 with no family history, shared her journey on CBS News, emphasizing hope for normalcy. After a challenging year, they welcomed their son, Duke, via surrogate in 2012. The couple continues to raise breast cancer awareness, participating in the C3 Prize competition, which supports innovations in cancer care to ease the journey for patients and families.

7. Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell

NBC chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell announced in September  2011 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mitchell shared that instead of hiking in Wyoming, she discovered she is among the 1 in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer. Her cancer, detected during an annual screening, is in its earliest stages, and her prognosis is excellent. Having already undergone treatment, Mitchell emphasized the importance of screening to other women, urging them to prioritize regular check-ups.

8. Wanda Sykes

Wanda Sykes

In 2011, actress and comedian Wanda Sykes was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in her left breast and chose to undergo a double mastectomy. Although she has since been open about her experience, she initially hesitated to share her story. Sykes expressed her concerns to Ellen Degeneres, noting the multiple aspects of her identity and jokingly questioning if she should be the spokesperson for everything, given that she is Black and lesbian.

9. Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge

In 2004, Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer and refused the array of pharmaceuticals prescribed for pain, depression, and their side effects. Instead, she used cannabis to manage her symptoms. During an interview, Etheridge highlighted mental health challenges among breast cancer patients, a topic she believes is often overlooked. Psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik explained to SurvivorNet that cancer patients experience a range of emotions, such as fear and anger, which can fluctuate throughout the diagnosis and treatment process, making it a particularly complex and daunting journey.

10. Edie Falco

Edie Falco

In 2008, Sopranos star Edie Falco was diagnosed with breast cancer, a secret she kept for some time. Reflecting on the moment she received the news, she told CNN that it was life-changing and overwhelming, making her feel unable to move or breathe. Falco chose to keep her diagnosis private, even from her Sopranos colleagues, to avoid constant concern from well-meaning people. She shared that she would have felt overwhelmed by questions about her well-being. By 2009, her cancer was in remission, and in a 2019 interview with Fortune, she expressed gratitude for surviving cancer and how it transformed her perspective on life.

11. Peter Criss

Peter Criss

In 2008, Peter Criss, the original drummer of ‘Kiss,’ was diagnosed with breast cancer. He advised men who discover lumps in their breasts to take immediate action and not ignore the symptoms, warning that it could be serious. In a 2009 CNN interview, he emphasized the importance of seeking medical attention promptly to avoid missing out on the beauty of life.

12. Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate

In 2008, actress Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, as she shared with Oprah.com. She managed to continue working for five weeks without disclosing her diagnosis. Doctors found a lump in her right breast, and subsequent tests revealed she had the BRCA gene mutation. This discovery led her to consider her treatment options seriously, as radiation alone wouldn’t prevent the cancer from returning or affecting her left breast. Ultimately, Applegate chose to undergo a double mastectomy, with one side treated for cancer and the other side removed as a preventive measure.

13. Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

According to BreastCancer.org, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Sheryl Crow, despite having no family history and being healthy at 44, was one of them. In her new Showtime documentary, “Sheryl,” the now 60-year-old recounts almost skipping the mammogram that detected her stage one ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Missing the appointment due to being “too busy” could have allowed the cancer to progress and become fatal. Crow is dedicated to sharing her story to encourage women worldwide to prioritize their health. She has spent the past decade advocating for breast cancer awareness through her personal experiences.

14. Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon faced breast cancer after being diagnosed in 2006 and announced she was cancer-free two years later. In a 2008 Nightline interview, she emphasized the importance of getting mammograms, warning that avoiding them out of fear of knowing the results could lead to serious consequences. Nixon highlighted that neglecting regular screenings is the real danger, as it could result in a much worse outcome.

15. Carly Simon

Carly Simon

In October 1997, Carly was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump in her left breast. She told The New York Daily News that it took time to adjust to the fear, but she saw herself as a warrior, as reported by Deseret News. To prevent tabloids from exaggerating her condition, she publicly shared her diagnosis, according to the Hartford Courant. Carly, a mother of two, was initially advised to monitor the lump, which had been there for years. Following her cancer journey, Simon returned to music, using her experience as inspiration for songs like “Scar,” overcoming her writer’s block, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

16. Jaclyn Smith

Jaclyn Smith

Jaclyn Smith, known for her role in the late 1970s TV series Charlie’s Angels, has appeared in over 50 movies and TV shows. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989 and pioneered celebrity branding with her clothing line for Kmart in 1985. In 2002, she launched a home furnishings collection while facing a personal challenge: breast cancer. That summer, during routine checkups, a mammogram led to a biopsy by Dr. Armando Giuliano, revealing cancer. Despite feeling healthy and having no family history of the disease, Jaclyn was stunned and overwhelmed by the diagnosis.

17. Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson announced in April 2015 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. In a statement, she shared that her prognosis was positive, attributing her expected full recovery to early detection, excellent doctors, and getting a second opinion. Wilson, who appeared in Girls and The Good Wife, took a leave from the play A Fish in the Dark due to her health. She expressed gratitude for her husband, Tom Hanks, who supported her throughout the ordeal.

18. Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee

Celebrity chef Sandra Lee revealed in May 2015 that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following an unsuccessful lumpectomy to fully remove the cancer, she said she would undergo a double mastectomy. Lee expressed her shock at the diagnosis, emphasizing how quickly life can change. Diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) during a routine mammogram, she clarified that the cancer had not spread. Advised by medical professionals due to the severity, Lee opted for a double mastectomy. Known for shows like “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals” and “Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee,” she also stressed the importance of not delaying mammograms until age 50.

19. Janice Dickinson

Janice Dickinson

Janice Dickinson, known as the world’s “first supermodel,” was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2016. The 61-year-old discovered a pea-sized lump in her right breast during a routine medical check-up, which led to a biopsy and mammogram confirming early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a common non-invasive form of breast cancer. In an emotional interview, Dickinson expressed initial fear upon learning her diagnosis but resolved to face it bravely. She emphasized the importance of regular breast examinations for women and declared her intention to advocate for breast cancer awareness. Dickinson plans to share her journey on the US television show The Doctors.

20. Katie Couric

Katie Couric

In September 2022, Katie Couric disclosed her diagnosis of stage 1A breast cancer. The former Today show host announced this on Instagram, mentioning it was detected during a routine mammogram and ultrasound. Couric shared a photo from a hospital waiting room, wearing a face mask and gown, noting that she became one of the many women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States every two minutes. She used the opportunity, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month approached, to share her personal experience and urge women to undergo screening, emphasizing that some may require more than just a mammogram.

21. Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue, aged 56, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at 37 years old. Reflecting on her journey in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, she described it as a profound transformational experience. She noted that such events create a clear “before and after” in life. Minogue compared adapting to life after cancer to the current global discussions about a “new normal.” She emphasized the importance of embracing both challenges and joys in life, highlighting that every moment, whether good or bad, contributes to one’s personal journey.

22. Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem, a pioneering feminist journalist at 90, publicly discussed her battle with cancer starting in 1988, though she had been grappling with the disease since her diagnosis in 1986. Reflecting on her experience in a 2016 interview, she admitted feeling more apprehensive about aging than about dying. Steinem expressed frustration at the lack of role models for navigating the later stages of life, describing it as a daunting leap into the unknown. Despite the challenges, she acknowledged that her encounter with cancer prompted her to reconsider her priorities and become more mindful of the passage of time.

23. Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts, who faced breast cancer in 2007, became emotional discussing new research indicating that blood stem cell donors may not need to be a perfect match. She shared the story of a nine-year-old who received a life-saving transplant from a partially matched donor in 2022, despite earlier concerns about finding a match due to her ethnicity. Reflecting on her own cancer battle, Roberts choked up, recalling how fortunate she was that her sister was a perfect match for her transplant, a rarity. She highlighted how this breakthrough could particularly benefit people of color facing challenges in finding compatible donors.

24. Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates announced in September 2012 through Twitter and People magazine that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a double mastectomy. The news came two months after NBC’s cancellation of her legal drama, “Harry’s Law.” Bates, who is also a survivor of ovarian cancer, expressed gratitude for the supportive messages she received. Even though Kathy Bates tested negative for the BRCA gene mutation, which is associated with increased cancer risk, she didn’t see it as a guarantee of safety, considering her family’s cancer history. Despite this, she was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years after overcoming ovarian cancer. Bates acknowledges that she became less vigilant about her health during this period.

Bates currently serves as the national spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN), an organization dedicated to raising awareness about lymphedema.

25. Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro

Comedian Tig Notaro, known for her sharp wit and deadpan delivery, underwent a profound shift in her routine after personal turmoil. She announced that she was diagnosed with cancer on 3rd august 2012. Addressing her cancer diagnosis and other hardships on stage at Largo, she abandoned her usual observational humor for raw, emotional storytelling. Initially unsure how to blend tragedy with comedy, Notaro’s frank delivery resonated deeply, prompting moments of silence and scattered laughter among her audience.

26. Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb

Hoda Kotb discussed the challenges she faced after publicly sharing her breast cancer diagnosis in 2007, which led to her undergoing a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. In a heartfelt conversation with Jenna Bush Hager, the 59-year-old admired Olivia Munn’s decision to announce her own breast cancer battle on social media. Hoda explained that her own decision to go public with her diagnosis was spurred by a chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane, who encouraged her not to conceal her journey. Initially hesitant, Hoda realized the impact of sharing her story and how it could offer support and guidance to others facing similar challenges.

27. Linda Evangelista

Linda Evangelista

Supermodel Linda Evangelista disclosed that she faced cancer twice, initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and subsequently with cancer of the pectoral muscle in 2022. She shared with the Wall Street Journal that her first breast cancer diagnosis came during a routine mammogram, prompting her to opt for a double mastectomy due to unfavorable margins and other health considerations. Evangelista expressed a strong desire to move past the ordeal and emphasized her determination not to let breast cancer be a fatal threat in her life.

28. Hillary Farr

Hillary Farr

HGTV personality Hilary Farr faced a challenging journey to recovery after her initial worrisome mammogram in 2012. Following surgery, doctors determined the lump was precancerous. However, two years later, Farr received a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer and underwent a second lumpectomy. Subsequently, she underwent 28 days of radiation treatment the following year. Farr, host of “Love It or List It,” eventually entered remission, marking a positive turn in her health journey after navigating through these medical challenges.

29. Jill Martin

Jill Martin

After being diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2023, Jill Martin underwent a double mastectomy and removal of 17 lymph nodes, followed by intensive chemotherapy. Once radiation treatment is complete, she planned surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes to lower her risk of ovarian cancer. Reflecting on her journey, Jill expresses gratitude for her resilience. “I’m thankful that my body has carried me through this. Cancer tries to strip away everything — friendships, work, health, hair, family… You have to fight where you can and hold onto what matters,” she shares. She finds, even in chemotherapy, reasons to celebrate.

30. Guerdy Abraira

Guerdy Abraira

Reality TV star Guerdy Abraira, upon being diagnosed with breast cancer, quickly identified a significant gap in resources for Black women. After learning about her treatment plan, which included radiation, she sought visual examples of how radiation affects darker skin tones. Abraira consulted her doctors about a disturbing image she found, learning it depicted an extreme reaction likely from a different breast cancer type. This prompted her to advocate for more representation of radiation’s effects on darker skin.

In March 2023, Abraira revealed a stage 1 estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer diagnosis after a routine mammogram, facing the daunting uncertainty of treatment. Abraira is now cancer-free, but radiation left her shoulder resembling a severe sunburn, requiring ongoing care with bio-oil.

From advocating for early detection to promoting research and accessible healthcare, these celebrities have become powerful voices in the fight against breast cancer. Their strength and resilience inspire hope and determination among millions affected worldwide. It is important to reinforce education, have the right resources, and have compassion to battle breast cancer.

Kanza Panhwar
Kanza Panhwar
Dr. Kanza Panhwar, the dynamic online writer, captivates readers in the digital realm. Armed with an MBBS degree, she crafts engaging content on diverse topics, from tech-savvy reviews, and insightful medical analysis to thought-provoking opinion pieces. With a conversational tone and colloquial expression, Jessica fosters a strong connection with her audience, while her adaptability keeps her at the forefront of the ever-evolving internet landscape for the past six years. Embracing the digital era's opportunities, she leaves an indelible mark on the virtual world, one captivating article at a time.

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