Celebrities who fought breast cancer while being in the public eye
An estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year, along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. Also this year, about 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men. No amount of fame or money can guarantee protection against this disease which means even the wealthiest of celebrities can be just as susceptible as you and I. Many famous people have used their star status to raise awareness of their disease so that others with breast cancer will know they are not alone. Here are just a few of the prominent women and men who have overcome breast cancer and were active in promoting cancer research and education.
Age at diagnosis: 63
While a vast majority of breast cancers occur in women, some men get it too as is evident by what happened to Peter Criss of the rock group Kiss. In 2009, Criss told CNN.com that he felt like “the luckiest man on the planet” after surviving the breast cancer he first noticed as a lump in his left breast two years earlier. Since then he’s continued to make rocking music, has published an inspiring autobiography, and is trying to get the word out that men are also susceptible to this disease.
Age at diagnosis: 44
Sheryl Crow had no close family history of breast cancer, but still underwent routine mammograms. After discovering suspicious lumps during one such mammogram in October 2006, Crow immediately postponed her tour, underwent minimally invasive surgery, and had radiation therapy supplemented with acupuncture and herbal teas. Because her cancer was caught so early, Crow was able to completely bypass chemotherapy. In March 2007, the rocker petitioned Congress to fund research into possible links between breast cancer and environmental factors.
Age at diagnosis: 66
First Lady Nancy Reagan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 while Ronald Reagan was still in the White House. She underwent a single mastectomy and made a full recovery. The First Lady’s experience led to a sudden influx of media attention, which sparked an important increase in the percentage of women having screening mammograms.
Age at diagnosis: 46
Good Morning America anchor and former ESPN reporter Robin Roberts was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer in 2007. She managed to beat the cancer and return to the anchor desk with treatment that included chemotherapy and radiation. In 2012, she underwent further chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant for MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome which can be brought on by cancer treatment.
Age at diagnosis: 47
Wanda Sykes was diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer after having a breast reduction in early 2011. Since she had a history of cancer on her mother’s side, Sykes opted for a preventive double mastectomy in order to give herself the best odds for a cancer-free life. After a month of healing, Sykes made a triumphant return to her stand-up comedy tour.
Age at high-risk diagnosis: 37
In February 2013, Jolie quietly underwent a double mastectomy after tests revealed she had a high risk of developing breast cancer. In a May 2013 interview with the New York Times, Jolie said, “The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made.” She continued, “I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.” In 2015, Jolie also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent a possible cancer scare.
Age at diagnosis: 37
While undergoing in-vitro fertilization treatment in 2011, E! News star and red carpet host Giuliana Rancic discovered she had breast cancer. Rancic opted for a double lumpectomy, began radiation treatment, and later underwent a double mastectomy. Less than a year after she announced the diagnosis, Rancic was all smiles as she returned to E! and welcomed her son Edward Duke via a gestational carrier.