15 Celebrities Who Have Been Open About Their Cancer Journeys: Olivia Munn, Richard Simmons and More

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May 11 2024, Published 12:01 a.m. ET

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Ben Stiller

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Ben Stiller spoke candidly about the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA, that saved his life.

The Along Came Polly actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 and had it removed three months later. He revealed in an essay and during his appearance interview with Howard Stern about his cancer journey when he was in his 40s.

"This is a complicated issue, and an evolving one," he wrote. "But in this imperfect world, I believe the best way to determine a course of action for the most treatable, yet deadly cancer, is to detect it early."

In 2017, he told TODAY he was cancer-free after the procedure.

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Christina Applegate

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In 2008, Christina Applegate discovered her b----- cancer diagnosis, which led her to undergo a double mastectomy. Nearly a decade later, she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed because of her BRCA1 gene mutation.

"My cousin passed away from ovarian cancer in 2008," she said in an interview. "I could prevent that. That's how I've taken control of everything. It's a relief. That's one other thing off the table. Now, let's hope I don't get hit by a bus."

Cynthia Nixon

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Cynthia Nixon underwent a routine mammogram, which helped her detect a cancerous tumor on her b----- and prevent it from growing further.

"My cancer was found during a routine mammogram when I was 40. Because my mother had b------ cancer twice, I started getting mammograms when I was 35," she told CURE in 2011. "I think that speaks volumes of how important it is to get mammograms, how important it is to get them regularly and how important it is to get them young. If I had started when I was 40, maybe they wouldn't have caught it."

Nixon also disclosed to ABC News she had been expecting the diagnosis because her mother also had it and survived it when she was only 12.

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Fran Drescher

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Fran Drescher did not have an easy journey when she was trying to find out what was wrong with her. For two years before 2000, she reportedly visited eight doctors before she was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

The Saturday Night Fever star also underwent an immediate radical hysterectomy.

"Ultimately I was really lucky," she shared while appearing on People's Chatter in 2018. "The particular cancer that I had was a very slow-growing cancer. So even after two years, I was still in Stage 1. I didn't have to do any post-opt treatment. But still, I couldn't have children … I felt very betrayed by the medical community and betrayed by my body."

Her experience pushed Drescher to help other people through a non-profit organization.

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Hugh Jackman

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Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman has faced multiple cancer scares starting in 2013. He told Live! with Kelly in 2017 that it was a basal cell carcinoma.

"Everything's fine. It is skin cancer, but the least dangerous form of it. So it's just something I have to get out," he said.

In 2023, he revealed on Instagram that he had two biopsies done again due to potential skin cancer.

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Jane Fonda

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Jane Fonda began her cancer journey when she underwent surgery to remove a non-invasive tumor in her b----- in 2010. She then had a mastectomy in 2016.

Her battle continued in 2018 when she developed a cancerous growth on her lower lip and had a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in September 2022.

"This is a very treatable cancer," Fonda wrote on Instagram. "80% of people survive, so I feel very lucky. I'm also lucky because I have health insurance and access to the best doctors and treatments. I realize, and it's painful, that I am [privileged] in this. Almost every family in America has had to deal with cancer at one time or another and far too many don't have access to the quality health care I am receiving and this is not right."

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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In 2017, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with stage II b------ cancer but felt good because of her "most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union."

"The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality," she went on.

She was declared cancer-free in 2019, a year after undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy and having a double mastectomy.

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Katie Couric

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Olivia Munn

Katie Couric underwent treatment for early-stage b------- cancer in 2022 and shared her journey on her website. Per the journalist, she was treated with a lumpectomy and radiation on top of the medication she would need to consume for five years after finding out about her condition when she received her overdue mammogram.

Couric noted she was not the only one in the family who faced the dreaded illness.

"The heart-stopping, suspended animation feeling I remember all too well came flooding back: Jay's colon cancer diagnosis at 41 and the terrifying, gutting nine months that followed. My sister Emily's pancreatic cancer, which would later kill her at 54, just as her political career was really taking off. My mother-in-law Carol's ovarian cancer, which she was fighting as she buried her son, a year and nine months before she herself was laid to rest," she detailed.

In addition, her mother reportedly had mantle cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, while her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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Kylie Minogue

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Kylie Minogue's b----- cancer diagnosis in 2005 pushed her to return home to Melbourne from the U.K. to start her treatment: partial mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

"Cancer changed many things forever, and some things didn't change at all," the "Padam Padam" songstress told WHO Magazine in 2020, years after she was declared cancer-free. "My view of the world was different, my destination, for the most part, was the same. Broader, for sure. I was even more passionate about the people and things that I loved, but life as I had known it was on hold."

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Michael Bolton

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In January, Michael Bolton shocked everyone when he revealed he was diagnosed with a brain tumor before the holidays and later underwent immediate surgery for his condition.

He gave his fans an update through a post on Instagram, assuring everyone his operation was a success.

"I am beyond grateful for all the love and support you have so generously shown me through the years," Bolton wrote. "Know that I'm keeping your positive messages in my heart."

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Olivia Munn

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In the past 10 months, Olivia Munn focused on her treatment and recovery after undergoing a double mastectomy.

The New Girl alum said she was tested for cancer genes in February 2023, and she was diagnosed with the illness after two months.

"I went from feeling completely fine one day, to waking up in a hospital bed after a 10-hour surgery the next," Munn said. "I'm lucky. We caught it with enough time that I had options."

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Olivia Newton-John

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For more than three decades, Olivia Newton-John battled cancer before her death on August 8, 2022, at the age of 73.

The Grease singer revealed in September 2018 that she needed to postpone her North American tour due to her third cancer diagnosis after a tumor metastasized in her lower back. She was first diagnosed with b------ cancer in 1992 before learning it had returned and spread to her shoulder in 2013.

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Richard Simmons

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Richard Simmons revealed he has skin cancer in a Facebook post on March 19. He said he noticed a strange bump under his right eye that led him to call his dermatologist.

"I sat in his chair and he looked at it through a magnifying mirror. He told me he would have to scrape it and put it under the microscope," he wrote. "Now I am getting a little bit nervous. He comes back about 20 minutes later and says the C word. 'You have cancer.'"

The fitness guru said he had basal cell carcinoma and was asked to see a cancer doctor as soon as possible.

His cancer diagnosis revelation came days after he worried his followers when he posted a message about dying on Facebook.

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Sheryl Crow

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Sheryl Crow started her b------ cancer battle in 2006, which prompted her to have a lumpectomy and spend seven weeks of radiation treatment.

She dropped more details about the "close-call" health issue in her documentary, Sheryl, to promote early detection.

"Until then, I'd spent a lifetime being a caretaker for everyone around me. From then, I started to put myself first. I had voices at the back of my head telling me whatever I did wasn't good enough. Now, finally, I've silenced them," Crow informed The Guardian in 2021.

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Suzanne Somers

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Suzanne Somers — who died on October 15, 2023, after battling different types of cancer — had been open about her struggles while also receiving unmatched love and support from her husband, Alan Hamel.

She was diagnosed with b------ cancer in 2000 before she was misdiagnosed with another form of the disease.

In July 2023, Somers' b------ cancer returned, and ultimately, led her to her final journey.

"I have been living with cancer since my 20s. And every time that little f----- pops up, I continue to bat it back. I do my best not to let this insidious disease control me," she wrote in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. "It's a recurrence of my b------ cancer. Like any cancer patient, when you get that dreaded 'It's back,' you get a pit in your stomach."


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