Celebrities Who Battled Cancer and Won
These famous figures were faced with the fight of their lives and emerged victorious.
When it comes to Hollywood stars and other celebrity figures, it can be easy to forget that they are people like everyone else. Sure, they have unparalleled fame and wealth, but they also have issues with their families, have been in failed relationships, and struggled with health problems. And if there is one thing that doesn't yield to fame, it's cancer. Most recently, we lost actor Willie Garson to pancreatic cancer, and household names like Alex Trebek and Chadwick Boseman have also lost their respective battles with the deadly disease. However, for the sake of hope, it's important to remember that not all cancer stories have an unhappy ending. Read on for inspiring stories of celebrities who beat cancer.
Actor Stanley Tucci only recently went public that he was treated for a cancerous tumor on his tongue nearly three years ago. Though doctors initially told him the mass was "too big to operate on," US Weekly reports, Tucci underwent treatment and has since made a full recovery. The path to get there was not an easy one, however.
"It was horrible," the 61-year-old actor recently told The New York Times about the fact that radiation treatment had caused him to lose his sense of taste. Not ideal, since he was filming a food-focused special for CNN called Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.
"I mean, if you can't eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy everything else?" he says.
On how cancer changed his perspective on life, Tucci recently told Vera magazine: "[Cancer] makes you more afraid and less afraid at the same time. I feel much older than I did before I was sick. But you still want to get ahead and get things done."
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After being diagnosed with stage 4 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma earlier this year, Blink-182 frontman Mark Hoppus recently announced that he was cancer free.
"Just saw my oncologist and I'm cancer free!!" the 49-year-old rocker wrote in an Instagram story, People reported. "Thank you God and universe and friends and family and everyone who sent support and kindness and love."
Hoppus also made sure to note the importance of continuing to monitor the state of his condition. "[I] still have to get scanned every six months and it'll take me until the end of the year to get back to normal, but today is an amazing day and I feel so blessed," he said.
Legendary actor Jeff Bridges has had a tough couple of years when it comes to his health. The 71-year-old True Grit star made headlines for his public battle with both COVID-19 and lymphoma. The good news is that he recovered from both.
In September, Bridges made an announcement on his website that after months of treatment his cancer was officially in remission, saying that the "9" x 12" mass has shrunk down to the size of a marble," People recently reported.
How did the experience compare to his battle with COVID-19, which he tested positive for in January and caused both him and his wife to spend time in the ICU? According to Bridges: "My dance with COVID makes my cancer look like a piece of cake."
Like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christina Applegate, star of Netflix series Dead to Me, underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Since then, Applegate has been cancer-free and founded the Right Action for Women, an organization that helps at-risk women pay for MRI screenings and testing, she told Today in 2017. In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, in order to help prevent the cancer from returning, Applegate also made the decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
As an award-winning journalist and longtime anchor of ABC's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts established herself as a familiar face and trustworthy news source in homes across the country. But after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 and then, just five years later, finding out she had a rare blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), Roberts came to represent something even more personal and powerful, handling her excruciating battle with a kind of grace and resilience that continues to inspire millions to take control of their own health.
When asked how she was doing in a 2018 interview with Cure magazine, Roberts said: "Strong like bull! I'm not one of those people who use the word 'remission,' but I'm grateful that at this point there is nothing detectable. I get my regular checkups, and I just love that I feel like myself again. It took quite a few years."
Ben Stiller credits the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test with saving his life. While the American Cancer Society recommends that men at average risk for the disease start getting screened at age 50, Stiller was 46 when his doctor recommended he get tested. And it's a good thing he did. The actor was subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 and then underwent surgery three months after to remove the tumor. He has been cancer-free ever since.
"The bottom line for me: I was lucky enough to have a doctor who gave me what they call a 'baseline' PSA test when I was about 46," Still wrote in an essay he published online in 2016. "I have no history of prostate cancer in my family and I am not in the high-risk group … I had no symptoms." The comedian added: "If he had waited, as the American Cancer Society recommends, until I was 50, I would not have known I had a growing tumor until two years after I got treated."
The late 2010s were a hard time for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, even though she was having success on screen as the lead on Veep (the hilariously irreverent HBO series that showcased her comedic abilities perhaps even better than her breakout role as Elaine on Seinfeld). Louis-Dreyfus's father died in September 2016 and a year later she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, which led to a brutal six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. The outcome was positive and Louis-Dreyfus is currently cancer-free, but she's still a bit hesitant to accept that as the end of her story. "I'm still working it out, to be honest with you," she told Vanity Fair in August 2019. "I'm glad I got through it, but there's a part of me that's still a little frightened, you know?"
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In 2008, while promoting the film Deception, Scottish actor Ewan McGregor was encouraged by his doctor to have a few suspicious moles on his face looked at by a specialist. It turns out at least one of them was concerning enough to be removed and turned out to be skin cancer. The Trainspotting and Star Wars star is fine now, but cautions people to have any odd looking or new moles looked at by a dermatologist immediately—especially those who have a similarly fair skin tone.
"You have to be careful if you're pale-skinned and spend any time in the sun," McGregor told the BBC in 2008 following the incident. "I went to see a specialist who thought they were better to be removed, and indeed he was correct."