UPDATE: Just hours after revealing she’s battling cancer, Kathy Griffin’s rep told PEOPLE that she’s “now out of surgery” and “everything went well”, according to her doctor. No other details were revealed at the time.
ORIGINAL STORY: Kathy Griffin, 60, took to social media on Monday August 2 to tell fans that she’d been diagnosed with stage-one lung cancer. She revealed that she’s going to have surgery to have half of her left lung taken out as a treatment. Even though it’s certainly shocking news, Kathy said that her doctors have high hopes for the procedure, and she wants to start bringing her hilarious comedy to fans again.
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) August 2, 2021
The comedian said that even though it came as a surprise, her doctors are “optimistic” that she won’t need further treatment. “Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked,” she said. “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.”
The My Life on The D-List star encouraged fans to get on top of their medical issues, and she mentioned that she is already vaccinated for COVID-19. “Of course I am fully vaccinated for Covid. The consequences of being unvaccinated would have been even more serious. Please stay up to date on your medical check ups. It’ll save your life,” she wrote. Kathy had another health scare back in March 2020, when she came down with severe symptoms returning home from Mexico. As the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, Kathy wrote that she’d been scared that she had the virus.
While it’s definitely scary, Kathy seemed confident that everything will pan out okay, and it sounds like she’s excited to tell jokes again. “It’s been a helluva 4 years, trying to get back to work, making you guys laugh, and entertaining you, but I’m gonna be just fine,” she said. The message seemed to reference backlash she received for jokes that she made about former President Donald Trump. The comic came under fire in 2017, when a photo of her with a beheaded Trump went viral.
During her interview with Juju Chang on Nightline on Monday evening, Kathy revealed that the Trump backlash and ensuing death threats exacerbated her addiction to pills — and even made her suicidal. Explaining that her addiction “kicked into high gear when the Trump thing happened,” Kathy said, “I was laughing to stay alive. And what I found is I felt like if I can’t make others laugh, then there’s no purpose for me to live. There’s no reason for me to live.”
“I started thinking about suicide more and more as I got into the pill addiction, and it became almost an obsessive thought,” the comedian continued. “I started really convincing myself it was a good decision. I got my living revocable trust in order. I had all my ducks in a row. I wrote the note — the whole thing.” Her cancer diagnosis, however, issued a new lease on life. “The irony is not lost on me that, a little over a year ago, all I wanted to do was die,” Kathy said. “And now, all I wanna do is live.”
Following her time in treatment, a “nasty detox” process, and now, an ongoing road to recovery, Kathy said she has newfound appreciation for her life and career. “Here’s the silver lining: I am so thrilled and grateful,” she said of sobriety. “I feel like, at 60, I’m gonna get a next chapter. That’s the thing everyone said wasn’t gonna happen. I believed [it] wasn’t gonna happen.”