The statistics can be overwhelming: Every 13 minutes, a woman dies from breast cancer. It is the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 15 and 54. But millions of women will battle the scary diagnosis and win, including famous faces from around the globe.
From comedians to actresses and TV personalities, learn which of your favorite celebs, and fearless women, defeated breast cancer…
1. Wanda Sykes
Spunky comedian Wanda Sykes revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she had breast cancer in early 2011, but it wasn’t caught by annual screening. It was found during a breast reduction. “It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast. I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer,” she told Ellen. But, as she points out, “cancer is still cancer” and with a long history of breast cancer on her mom’s side of the family, Sykes wasn’t messing around — she opted for a double mastectomy to significantly drop her chances of the cancer returning.
2. Kylie Minogue
The 39-year-old singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. She underwent a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy. In November 2007, Minogue told Glamour magazine that she had been through an emotional roller coaster with treatment for breast cancer. “As far as body image goes, I’ve shrunk to nothing. I’ve ballooned; my body is not what it used to be, but it’s the body I’m in.”
3. Christina Applegate
In April 2008, shocking news hit the funny girl, Applegate. At 36 years old, Christina was diagnosed with breast cancer. At first, Christina says she lived quietly with the disease. “It’s hard to live quietly,” she says. “I went through five weeks of work without telling anyone that this was going on in my life.” As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Christina says she’s been vigilant about getting regular mammograms since she was 30 years old. In 2007, doctors recommended extra precautions. Christina went in for her first MRI screening, which produced disturbing results. Within a week, Christina had her first lumpectomy. Doctors also did a biopsy of her lymph nodes to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread. Since the cancer was caught early on, Christina was told she’d need six weeks of radiation instead of chemotherapy.
4. Robin Roberts
Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts has racked up many impressive interviews over the years; she was the first journalist to interview Barack Obama after he was sworn in as president. The newscaster chose to take on her battle with breast cancer publicly, announcing her diagnosis in 2007 after discovering a lump during a self-exam at age 46. She has since been an advocate for awareness and early detection. Roberts most recently participated in the 2010 Stand Up 2 Cancer fundraising television special.
5. Melissa Etheridge
Two-time Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge faced a terrifying diagnosis and lived to tell the tale. One day during her tour in 2004, at the age of 43, Etheridge discovered a lump in her breast. She flew home to California, where she was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer. “It was a rather large tumor but had only contaminated one lymph node.” A wonderful ultrasound technician helped Etheridge get through the initial diagnosis. “She was a five-year survivor who’d had a full mastectomy,” Etheridge told “Good Morning America,” “and she opened her blouse and said, ‘this is the worst that can happen.’” Now cancer-free, Etheridge recommends eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and donated the proceeds from “Piece of My Heart” sales to benefit breast cancer research.
6. Sheryl Crow
Rocker Sheryl Crow has something to sing about: recovering from cancer. The nine-time Grammy winner was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in February 2006, at age 44. Crow underwent successful minimally invasive surgery for breast cancer just after being diagnosed. According to her Web site, her doctors confirmed her prognosis as excellent, and she received radiation treatment as a precaution. She is said to be in remission.
7. Hoda Kotb
As an Emmy-nominated journalist, Kotb has covered a variety of domestic and international stories, including Hurricane Katrina and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007 she joined the Today show as a co-host and currently works alongside Kathy Lee Gifford. After her diagnosis, Kotb, now 46, allowed cameras to track her treatment and wrote a deeply personal essay with a message to woman fighting breast cancer: “I know you feel like you’re in hell now, but your life is about to get a whole lot better.” She said she realized that surviving the scariest event of her life gave her the courage to tackle new challenges she wouldn’t have attempted in the past. “It’s funny when I think how I owe my job, in part, to cancer,” she said.
8. Olivia Newton-John
Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, at the age of 43, the same weekend her father died. After undergoing a mastectomy and partial breast reconstruction, Newton-John became increasingly candid about her battle with breast cancer and has become a proponent of the importance of early detection. Her personal victory against cancer led her to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Center in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. The center will provide a comprehensive range of services and facilities for cancer treatment, education, training and research.