One of the most difficult things about being diagnosed with breast cancer is feeling alone. Despite the fact that 1 in 7 women in the UK will suffer from breast cancer, it can feel that you are fighting on your own. You might be lucky and have a friend or relative who fought cancer in the past. They could give you some idea of the treatments from the effect it had on them. Just as with all areas of life, it is great to have inspiring role-models who you can look to when thinking about the future.
This is a list of 10 well-known celebrities who have fought and recovered from breast disease. Everyone’s cancer is different and you are always treated as an individual. But there are lots of similarities between the journeys of women with breast cancer. These brilliant women have all made a good recovery and returned to successful careers. Some had a wide local excision (lumpectomy) whilst others had a mastectomy. Of those who had a mastectomy, some went on to have reconstruction of their breasts.
Ms Lucy Khan and Mr Chris Cartlidge are consultant breast surgeons who together have treated hundreds of women with breast cancer. They use their additional expertise in cosmetic surgery to reconstruct breasts following a cancer operation. Ms Khan and Mr Cartlidge treat patients from all over the UK, including the rich and famous, who come to them looking for the best surgeons they can find. Lucy Khan has been featured as an expert in the Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
1. Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow is a famous singer and songwriter who has sold more than 50 million albums. “All I wanna do” and “If it makes you happy” are 2 of her most famous hits. In 2006, she was diagnosed with pre-cancer changes in her breast (DCIS). She had the lump removed (wide local excision) in 2006. After this, she went on to have radiation treatment to the breast. This reduces the risk of cancer coming back in that breast.
2. Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate is currently starring in the Netflix series “Dead to me“. She previously won an Emmy award for her role as Rachel’s sister in Friends. At the age of 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was found after an MRI scan. She has the BRCA breast cancer mutation which put her at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. She decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of future cancer. Her mother also had treatment for breast cancer.
3. Olivia Newton-John
Co-star of the movie Grease, Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. After being treated successfully she became a major supporter of breast cancer research. She raised funds to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia. She donated proceeds from her album “Stronger Than Before” to breast cancer research.
4. Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue is the ‘Princess of Pop’ and is the biggest selling Australian female artist of all time. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 36. She had surgery and then chemotherapy to treat the cancer. Initially, Kylie was told that it wasn’t cancer, but after a few weeks the truth became clear. She is now free of cancer and continues to perform all over the world.
5. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the star of shows such as “Seinfeld“, “Veep” and “Saturday Night Live“. She has won more Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards than any other performer. Julia was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2017 (it had spread to her lymph glands). She had chemotherapy before going on to a double mastectomy. Now cancer-free, she continues her fabulous acting career.
6. Kathy Bates
Oscar-winner Kathy Bates was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003 and then breast cancer in 2012. She decided to have a double mastectomy for treatment of her cancer. Unfortunately, she suffers from lymphoedema in both arms (swelling due to poor lymphatic drainage). She supports charity work for this and is a spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN).
7. Cynthia Nixon
Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon is another Emmy award-winning actress. In 2006, at the age of 40, she was diagnosed with cancer after a routine mammogram. Her mother was treated previously. Cynthia required a wide local excision (lumpectomy) and then radiation treatment.
8. Rita Wilson
Actress and wife of Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction in 2015 at the age of 59. After only 1 month off, she was able to return to work on Broadway!
9. Maggie Smith
Dame Maggie Smith is famous to many as Professor McGonagall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She had breast cancer treated in 2007. But she managed to film “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” whilst having chemotherapy. In 2009 she announced that she had made a full recovery.
Singer-songwriter Anastacia discovered she had breast cancer when she booked to have breast reduction surgery in 2002. She was 34 years old. In 2013 she suffered from a further scare. She has recovered well and lives life to the full!
11. Julia Bradbury
TV presenter Julia Bradbury got cancer at the age of 51. She tells us that she had dense breast tissue. This can make it especially difficult to see a cancer on a mammogram. About 40% of women have this problem. She had a mastectomy. Pain in her breast alerted her to the presence of cancer.