Breast cancer, like other cancers, hits every victim differently. But one thing these celebrity breast cancer survivors have in common is their dedication to educate, inspire, and help those around them beat the disease. These 5 stars shared their experiences with breast cancer over the years; and today we’ll share some key takeaways from their journeys.
On Advocating For Yourself
Clea Shearer and her business partner/best friend Joanna Teplin are my favorite famous home organizers. If you haven’t watched their Netflix series, Get Organized, you’re really missing out on some joy. While traveling to film a segment on the Today Show, Clea found two lumps in her right breast during a self-examination. “I felt something, a mass, a lump. But I didn’t know what a lump actually felt like, so I was just in my hotel room Googling, ‘What does a breast tumor feel like?’” Shearer said at the time.
Clea didn’t necessarily think it was a problem because she had no history of cancer in her family, but she still spoke up and reached out to her doctor. In an interview with PEOPLE, Clea goes on to give the advice, “[I want to] have people understand that if you feel anything amiss, you have to say something. You might not get a response from your doctor that you like. They might push it off and say you don’t need a test or we’ll get you in at your next physical. But we know our body’s best.”
Having gone through my own personal health journey into the medical system, I have to agree with Clea — nobody can advocate better than you for yourself and your health.
On Writing Your Own Story
Miranda McKeon was 19 when she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in her lymph nodes. She found a lump while adjusting her shirt in the summer of 2021. As she was thrown into treatments, her doctor told her, “Your stage doesn’t define you. And your cancer is your cancer,” empowering Miranda to document her journey through chemo (and beyond) via her blog.
Something we forget when we go through turbulent times is that we are not alone, and that through sharing our experience, there is opportunity to heal and help someone else in the process.
“I’m hoping that by documenting a good majority of this, that someone else will be able to read it down the line when they need it and they can find comfort and healing through it in the way that I do writing it,” Miranda shared.
Shannen Doherty was 44 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, but was 48 when she received a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic cancer that spread to her spine in 2020. Even with a terminal diagnosis, Shannen refused to give up the fight, saying “I’m not ready for pasture, I’ve got a lot of life in me.” She wasn’t kidding, as she is still fighting today.
On Finding Strength From Within
(THE) Olivia Newton John was first diagnosed with breast cancer at 44 years old in 1992, and battled with the cancer two more times in 2013 and 2017. When she shared details about her treatment, she said, “I visualized [the chemicals] as gold liquid going into my body, healing me rather than what it really is, which is poison.” If I had gold filling my veins, I’d hope to feel as invincible as I imagine Olivia envisioning herself to be.
Even with a third diagnosis in 2017, she stayed positive, saying, “I’m happy. I’m lucky. And I’m grateful. I have much to live for. And I intend to keep on livin’ it.” And live it, she did, until her passing in 2022.
On Educating to Empower Yourself
Mathew Knowles, father of Beyonce and Solange Knowles, was diagnosed with breast cancer after noticing tiny blood spots on his shirt and bedsheets. Only about 1% of annual diagnoses of breast cancer in America are men, but it’s still quite possible. Mathew now empowers others to learn about their own risk factors, and encourages men to do whatever necessary to better identify their risks.
It’s important to note that men, especially, often receive a later detection and diagnosis of breast cancer due to lack of education around the potential for developing it, which can ultimately be more fatal.
“I want to save lives, especially in the Black community,” Mathew said about his work in empowering his community to educate themselves on their risks of cancer. Mathew is breast cancer-free as of 2020.