16 Celebrities That Have Been Open About Their Breast Cancer Journeys

16 Celebrities That Have Been Open About Their Breast Cancer Journeys featured image
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A person’s cancer journey is a private experience for them to work through in whatever way they feel comfortable. However, as we’ve seen recently with Kate Middleton, those in the public eye don’t always have that luxury. Over the past two decades, many celebrities have been candid about their experience with breast cancer, some right after diagnosis and others many years later once they felt ready to share. Hear firsthand what these women wanted to share about their experience.

1 / 16

Olivia Munn

Olivia Munn recently took to Instagram to share that in the past year, she learned she had breast cancer after a normal mammogram. “I wouldn’t have found my cancer for another year—at my next scheduled mammogram—except that my OBGYN, Dr. Thais Aliabadi, decided to calculate my Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Score. The fact that she did saved my life,” Munn wrote, urging others to do the same.

The actress had Luminal B cancer in both breasts, which she describes as “an aggressive, fast-moving cancer.” She had a double mastectomy and reconstruction and is on the path to healing.

olivia munn breast cancer
MICHAEL TRAN / Getty Images
2 / 16

Christina Appelgate

These days Christina Appelgate is very candid about her challenging experience with MS, but back in 2008, she put on a happy face and told fans she was content with her new breasts post-mastectomy and reconstruction. 

“Everything I was saying was a freaking lie. It was me trying to convince myself of something, and I think that did no service to anyone,” she recently revealed on the “Armchair Expert” podcast. She’s proud of starting a foundation and raising millions to help people at high risk get MRIs. “But at the back of it, I was taking off my bra and crying every night. And I wish that I had said that.”

Photo Credits: Jon Kopaloff / Stringer / Getty Images
3 / 16

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Louis-Dreyfus learned she had stage 2 breast cancer the day after winning her sixth Emmy award back in 2017. She had a double mastectomy and six rounds of chemo, helping her get cancer-free the next year. In a 2023 interview, she told The Wall Street Journal that since her diagnosis, she’s found herself “living more mindfully.”

julia louis dreyfus breast cancer
Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images
4 / 16

Hoda Kotb

While discussing Munn’s recent diagnosis, Hoda Kotb reflected on her own back in 2007. “I wasn’t going to say anything about it, and I wanted to forget about it, but someone encouraged me to say something,” Kotb revealed on TODAY. She recalls becoming fearless in the aftermath once she had the sobering realization: “There’s a beginning and an end.”

Getty Images / NBC Universal
5 / 16

Jaclyn Smith

The former Charlie’s Angel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and has since been more cognizant of her health. “I am really consistent, and I really believe in working out. It is not only good for your body, but also your brain, as it releases endorphins. I also eat very healthy, and I don’t drink,” she told us in 2022.

She added, “With each passing decade, your chances of getting breast cancer go up. Thank goodness, there are so many great treatments and medications today, so the best thing is early detection and to eat properly and exercise. Those are just a few things that are popping into my mind now.”

jaclyn smith breast cancer
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6 / 16

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and had a double mastectomy. In 2022 she was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Luckily, a few months later, she announced on her Instagram she was in remission and could discontinue chemo. “I’m especially happy because while my first four chemo treatments were rather easy for me, only a few days of being tired, the last chemo session was rough and lasted two weeks, making it hard to accomplish much of anything,” she shared.

Getty Images / Araya Doheny
7 / 16

Robin Roberts

In 2007, Robin Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, five years later, she was also diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow. She underwent a successful bone marrow transplant, thanks to her sister. In 2023, her partner Amber Laign was also battling breast cancer. “I went through it twice, barely shed a tear,” she shared on Ellen. “I’m a puddle every time I think about what Amber is going through.”

robin roberts breast cancer
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8 / 16

Edie Falco

While on The Sopranos a journalist leaked Edie Falco’s breast cancer diagnosis before she, a self-described private person, was comfortable sharing with the world. “I needed to go through this my own way,” Falco said on the Tamron Hall Show about 15 years after the incident, noting that even her castmates didn’t know at the time. She has since been open about her experience and how it inspired her to adopt children. Plus, she confronted the journalist.

edie falco breast cancer
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images
9 / 16

Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon’s mother had breast cancer, so she was on high alert. “I always sort of thought, ‘I’m probably going to get breast cancer. There’s a really good chance,’” she told Nightline. Nixon was diagnosed in 2002 and had a lumpectomy and radiation privately. In 2008 she publicly shared her diagnosis and became a vocal advocate.

cynthia nixon breast cancer
Santiago Felipe / Getty Images
10 / 16

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44 in 2006. “As a breast cancer survivor who credits early detection for saving my life, I have made it part of my life story to help educate women about the importance of scheduling their annual mammograms,” she wrote in a personal essay for People in 2022.

sheryl crow breast cancer
Terry Wyatt / Getty Images
11 / 16


Jewel was diagnosed with breast cancer over a decade ago before discussions about reconstruction options were common, but she was a trailblazer. She teamed up with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to help spread the word that women have a right to ask about their reconstruction options.

The singer also penned a song titled “Flower” about her experience, with personal lyrics like “She’s a flower that grows despite cement walls and she will survive.”

jewel breast cancer
Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images
12 / 16

Katie Couric

In the midst of the pandemic, in 2022, Katie Couric was late for her breast check by six months and found she had breast cancer. She swiftly received a lumpectomy and radiation. Couric has long been an advocate for cancer awareness since her husband passed from colon cancer in 1998, even sharing her own colonoscopy on TV sparking a 20 percent increase in patients getting checked. She’s still fervently advocating for early detection.

Photo Credits: Paul Morigi / Contributor/ Getty Images
13 / 16

Wanda Sykes

Wanda Sykes revealed she had breast cancer in 2011 on Ellen after keeping the experience private for a bit. She shared that she went in for a breast reduction and it wasn’t until after that the lab work found ductal carcinoma in situ in her left breast, which is a low-level cancer. With a lot of breast cancer history on her mother’s side, Sykes decided on a double mastectomy.

wanda sykes breast cancer
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14 / 16

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson had a normal check-up in 2015 but had a bad gut feeling. At the suggestion of a friend, she sought a second opinion on her pathology and was diagnosed with breast cancer. During an interview with Kotb on TODAY she revealed that music was a huge source of solace during her treatment.

MICHAEL TRAN / AFP via Getty Images
15 / 16

Giuliana Rancic

At 36, amid fertility treatments, Giuliana Rancic revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer on TODAY. “It was just a kick in the stomach,” Rancic said on the show. “That was the hardest day … (the emotions are) what you expect but so much more. It was incredible instant sobbing, and it was like the world just crashed down around me. I couldn’t believe it, 36 years old, no family history,” she said. After a lumpectomy, she later decided on a double mastectomy.

Photo Credits: Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images
16 / 16

Melissa Etheridge

While chatting with Good Morning America, Melissa Ethrdige noted that “society doesn’t say the word cancer much,” recalling that when her grandmother was dying of breast cancer no one informed her what was wrong. After finding a lump while on tour in 2004 Ethridge was diagnosed herself.

She recently revealed that her manager discouraged her from sharing her diagnosis with the public for fear that she would be looked at as “weak.” Ethridge decided to share her truth and has been thanked by many people for doing so. After a lumpectomy, removal of 15 lymph nodes, chemotherapy and radiation she was cancer-free.

melissa etheridge breast cancer
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