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Kathy Griffin Reveals Most Shocking Thing About Lung Cancer Diagnosis

She clarified an assumption that many people have about the disease.

Comedian Kathy Griffin shared some unfortunate news with fans on Monday morning, but she's staying optimistic. On Aug. 2, Griffin revealed that she has lung cancer in an Instagram post. The 60-year-old actor wrote that she was about to have surgery and said that she and her doctors are hopeful that she will be just fine. But, there is one aspect of the diagnosis that surprised Griffin and may surprise her fans, too: Griffin has never smoked.

Read on to see what Griffin had to say about her diagnosis and the tip she shared for anyone reading her post.

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Griffin's cancer is stage one, and she's about to have part of her lung removed.


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A post shared by Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin)

"I've got to tell you guys something," Griffin begins her Instagram post. "I have cancer. I'm about to go into surgery to have half of my left lung removed." She continues, "The doctors are very optimistic as it is stage one and contained to my left lung. Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing. I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less."

She emphasized that she's never been a smoker.

Kathy Griffin at the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Gold Anniversary Vanguard Celebration "Hearts Of Gold" in 2019
Ovidiu Hrubaru /

In her post, Griffin clarifies, "Yes, I have lung cancer, even though I've never smoked!"

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Smoking causes the majority of lung cancers—both in smokers and in people exposed to secondhand smoke. But lung cancer also occurs in people who never smoked and in those who never had prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke. In these cases, there may be no clear cause of lung cancer."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website also notes that one is far more likely to get lung cancer as a smoker, but that smoking is not responsible for all cases. "In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths," reads the CDC site. "People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke."

She was "in shock" after her diagnosis.

Kathy Griffin on "Nightline"

On Monday night, Nightline will air an interview with Griffin about her cancer. In a clip from the interview, the comedian says that she was diagnosed about two weeks earlier. "I was definitely in shock," she says in the clip. "I'm still a little bit in shock, not denial. Once a day I'll turn to nobody next to me and go, 'Can you believe this s***? Is this a b**** or what?'"

She said that she had a mass on her lungs for a while, but it wasn't diagnosed as cancer until now. "I've had it for a long time," she told Nightline. "And it gets X-rayed every three years and hasn't grown. So [the doctor] said, 'Well, this time, it grew.'"

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She opened up about the hard times she's gone through recently.

Kathy Griffin during an anti-Trump demonstration at the White House in 2018
Phil Pasquini /

In her Instagram post, Griffin writes, "It's been a helluva a 4 years, trying to get back to work, making you guys laugh and entertaining you, but I'm gonna be just fine."

In 2017, a scandal involving Griffin erupted after she shared a photo of herself holding a mask that looked like Donald Trump's head covered in blood. In the Nightline interview, Griffin shared that in the aftermath of that post, she and her family members received death threats. Griffin was investigated by the Secret Service in response to the photo. She became addicted to pills during this time and attempted to end her life, as reported by ABC News. "The irony is not lost on me that, a little over a year ago, all I wanted to do was die. And now, all I wanna do is live," she says in the interview.

She wants everyone to remember to schedule their check-ups—and get their COVID vaccine shots.

Kathy Griffin at the 2019 Oscar Wilde Awards
Kathy Hutchins /

Ending her Instagram post, Griffin points out that she's been vaccinated against the coronavirus. "Of course I am fully vaccinated for COVID. The consequences for being unvaccinated would have been even more serious," she writes.

She also reminds people to get regular check-ups with their doctor: "Please stay up to date on your medical check-ups. It'll save your life."

RELATED: Eating This One Thing Can Cut Your Cancer Risk in Half, New Study Says.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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