World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.
The primary goal of the day is to significantly reduce illness and death caused by cancer and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer. It also targets misinformation, raises awareness, and reduces stigma. Multiple initiatives are run on World Cancer Day to show support for those affected by cancer.
As we know, cancer does not discriminate and has affected many famous faces in the fashion industry and in Hollywood. In honor of World Cancer Day, we are highlighting 10 courageous celebrity cancer survivors. Check out their inspiriting stories below.
The Australian pop star was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36 in May 2005. The “I Believe In You” singer underwent surgery at Cabrini Hospital in Malvern and commenced chemotherapy treatment soon after. After the surgery, the disease “had no recurrence.”
While appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2008, Minogue said that her cancer had originally been misdiagnosed. She commented, “Because someone is in a white coat and using big medical instruments doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right,” but later spoke of her respect for the medical profession.
In May 2008, the French Cultural Minister Christine Albanel said, “Doctors now even go as far as saying there is a ‘Kylie effect’ that encourages young women to have regular checks.” She has been cited as an example of cases where more women have undergone regular checks for cancer symptoms after publicity around famous people being diagnosed with cancer.
Carmen Marc Valvo
The designer, who has dressed the likes of Beyoncé, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kate Winslet and Mary J Blige, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2003. After becoming a survivor, he dedicated himself to advocacy and sat on the board of the Colon Cancer Alliance helping raise millions of dollars for colorectal cancer research.
For New York Fashion Week Spring 2005, Valvo joined with Katie Couric, the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA), the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Olympus, then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Anna Wintour, Fern Mallis, Iman, Nia Vardalos and Patrick McMullan for the “Be Seen, Be Screened” campaign. Held at Bryant Park, the event was an initiative to raise awareness of this curable, but deadly, form of cancer. In March 2008, he and longtime friend, Vanessa Williams, appeared in a public service campaign about the importance of early screening for colorectal cancer. He also partnered with the Colon Cancer Alliance in 2011 to promote Dress in Blue Day, a colorectal cancer awareness day held the first Friday of every March, He also donated a blue gown from his Black Label for the Colon Cancer Alliance to auction off, and designed a limited edition women’s T-shirt for the event.
On August 3, 2008, PEOPLE reported that the Dead To Me star had been diagnosed with breast cancer. This was confirmed by her representative, who said in a statement: “Christina Applegate was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer. Benefiting from early detection through a doctor-ordered MRI, the cancer is not life-threatening. Christina is following the recommended treatment of her doctors and will have a full recovery.”
A few weeks later, it was announced that the actress was cancer-free after a double mastectomy, though cancer was found in only one breast. She has an inherited genetic trait, a BRCA1 mutation, which can trigger breast and ovarian cancer. Her mother, Nancy Priddy, is a breast cancer survivor.
Applegate told Us Weekly when she was first diagnosed, “I was just shaking and then also immediately, I had to go into ‘take-care-of-business-mode,’ which included a change to a more healthy diet.”
In November 2017, the Desperate Housewives star was hit with shocking news that she was diagnosed with anal cancer after after a routine gynecological check-up. She later found out that her cancer was likely related to HPV, which she hadn’t previously been diagnosed with. HPV causes more than 90 percent of anal cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cross underwent 28 radiation treatments, along with two week-long courses of chemotherapy.
The actress has now been in remission since 2018 and sees her gastroenterologist every three months for check-ups.
Julia Louis Dreyfus
On September 28, 2017, the actress announced on Twitter her diagnosis of breast cancer, a diagnosis she received one day after receiving a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Veep.
“One in eight women get breast cancer,” she stated. “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. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal healthcare a reality.”
She announced on the October 18, 2018, episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! that she was cancer-free.
In November 2013, the Aussie actor announced he had basal-cell carcinoma removed from his nose. He had a second carcinoma removed from his nose in May 2014, telling Associated Press that he expects to have future recurrences. This resulted in Jackman attending the various worldwide premieres of X-Men: Days of Future Past with a bandage on his nose, and used the image to urge his followers on Instagram to “wear sunscreen.”
The mother of the Sex And The City alum had breast cancer twice, so Nixon started regular mammograms at 35. Five years later, in October 2006, the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammography. She initially decided not to go public with her illness because she feared it might hurt her career, but in April 2008, she announced her battle with the disease in an interview with Good Morning America. Since then, the former New York gubernatorial candidate has become a breast cancer activist. She even convinced the head of NBC to air her breast cancer special in a primetime program and became an Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The iconic fashion designer learned she had breast cancer by chance in 1999, after she rushed to the hospital when one of her breast implants leaked and collapsed.
“I discovered my breast cancer because my implant deflated overnight, my left one,” she told PEOPLE. “I had a massage scheduled for the morning, everything is fine that morning, but I always had to ask for a towel to roll up under my boobs, because I was always scared of them, that they were going to pop, that they were balloons that were going to pop.”
With her breast implant now deflated, Johnson had it removed immediately. “When they took that thing out it was exactly like an old, corroded portobello mushroom!” she said. During the healing process, she spotted a lump.
“I was like, ‘What is this hard-as-a-rock pea going on there?’ Which I never would have discovered if the implant hadn’t deflated,” she said, adding that when she was diagnosed in 1999, mammograms were not advanced enough to find a lump around a breast implant. “Now I know they are much better with mammograms.”
She initially kept her battle a secret out of fear that it might hurt her business. The 78-year-old has since become a vocal advocate for breast cancer awareness. “I am so happy that I am alive, I am feeling good,” she stated.
The actor was shocked when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2014. After seeing a urologist, who gave him the news, the Zoolander star said he spoke to “a bunch of different” doctors, including Robert De Niro’s physician, eventually having surgery to remove the prostate. The actor-director wrote a piece about his experience on Medium saying the doctor “performed a robotic assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Due to a lot of skill and a little beneficence from some higher power, he got all the cancer. As of this writing I am two years cancer free and extremely grateful.”
Stiller now says he still gets tested regularly and urges men to get their PSA level checked, which indicates the presence of prostate cancer, despite some controversy about whether the test can lead to overtreatment of cancers that are not life-threatening.
“If [the doctor] had waited, as the American Cancer Society recommends, until I was 50, I would not have known I had a growing tumor until two years after I got treated,” he wrote on Medium. “If he had followed the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, I would have never gotten tested at all, and not have known I had cancer until it was way too late to treat successfully.”
Following an initial misdiagnosis of sciatica, in May 2017 it was announced that Australian singer and actress’ breast cancer had returned and metastasized to her lower back. Newton-John subsequently revealed this was actually her third bout with breast cancer; she had privately battled the disease in 2013 in addition to her previously disclosed 1992 fight. In 2017, it was also reported that the cancer had progressed to stage IV and spread to her bones. The Grease star has openly talked about using cannabis oil to ease her cancer pain and has become an advocate for medical cannabis.