It’s the first day in October, which means that breast cancer awareness month is well underway. The month often associated with Halloween is actually quite significant for educating the nation on the disease that affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetime, according to BreastCancer.Org. Breast cancer awareness month began 35 years ago in 1985 as a collaborative effort between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries, per Brevard Health Alliance Inc.
All of these years later, so many prominent figures have used their platforms and opened up about their own personal struggle with breast cancer. In 1985, former First Lady Betty Ford became one of the most prominent figures to share her stories. Years later, famous faces from Giuliana Rancic to Christina Applegate have shared their experiences of perseverance and hope. Check out the celebrities who have courageously shared their breast cancer diagnoses with the world.
Giuliana RancicFormer E! News personality Giuliana Rancic, 46, learned that she had breast cancer in 2011 amidst her in vitro fertilization round to conceive her and husband Bill Rancic‘s first child. In December 2011, Giuliana spoke with HollywoodLife about how she initially wanted to keep her diagnosis a secret. “There was definitely a period of time when we thought, we’ll probably keep this a secret…forever,” she told HL.
“And then, I don’t know, it’s just not my personality. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Gosh, I wish I could tell my friends what I’m going through or girls at work,’ just because I wanted to tell them to get checked and tell them, ‘Hey guys, if this can happen to me, then it could happen to you!’” Giuliana subsequently underwent a double lumpectomy and a double mastectomy to treat the cancer.
Christina ApplegateFor actress Christina Applegate, cancer was something that became incredibly personal prior to her diagnosis. The Dead To Me star, 48, watched her mother battle cancer twice in her life and in August 2008, Christina received her diagnosis that she, too, had developed breast cancer. Christina subsequently underwent a double mastectomy, though the cancer cells were only detected in one of her breasts.
Julia Louis-DreyfusThe day following the 2017 Emmy Awards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with breast cancer. On September 28, 2017, Julia shared her diagnosis with a message to her fans on Twitter, writing, “One in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one. The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union,” Julia continued.
“The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality.” Julia completed her treatment for the cancer in 2018 and has since been a staunch advocate for women’s health.
Robin RobertsIn 2007, celebrated journalist Robin Roberts, 59, announced on Good Morning America that she was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. She began treatment in August of that year and by January 2008 had endured eight rounds of chemotherapy. She was also diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the bone marrow in 2012, and documented her treatments. Robin has been completely lauded for her transparency when it comes to her health.
Rita WilsonAfter a friend encouraged Rita Wilson to seek a second opinion based on a missed diagnosis, the actress, 63, learned she had breast cancer in 2015. Rita went through a bilateral mastectomy that same year. “Last week, with my husband by my side, and with the love and support of family and friends, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction for breast cancer after a diagnosis of invasive lobular carcinoma,” she shared at the time. “I am recovering and most importantly, expected to make a full recovery. Why? Because I caught this early, have excellent doctors and because I got a second opinion.”
Sheryl CrowAfter calling off her engagement to Lance Armstrong, singer Sheryl Crow learned that she had an early stage of breast cancer in February 2006. The “Woman In The White House,” hitmaker, 58, subsequently went through a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. “I do find that women who come up to me and say, ‘I’m a breast cancer survivor,’ they almost invariably tell me the same story, and that is that they put themselves last in the long line of people they took care of, not only emotionally but physically,” she told Popsugar in October 2019. Sheryl has continued to inspire women for her strength and resilience.
Kylie MinoguePop star Kylie Minogue was very honest about her battle with breast cancer. The singer, 52, had an initial misdiagnosis which was later corrected after getting a second opinion. In 2005, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and postponed one of her tours in order to receive treatment. “Cancer has probably touched everyone in this audience in some way or another and all the stories are different, but certainly in as much as she felt it was her duty to talk about it,” she shared around her 10th anniversary of being cancer-free. “I never questioned – not for a split-second did I think of not saying what I had.”
Hoda KotbAfter feeling a lump in her breast, Hoda Kotb‘s suspicions were confirmed by a physician, who diagnosed the Today co-host, 56, with breast cancer in 2007. Hoda then made the decision to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in March of that year. She continued to use her platform on Today as a means of shedding light on her journey, and has continued to be an advocate for cancer survivors.