Today, the 5th of January 2017, is Jane McGrath Day, and the Sydney Cricket Ground has turned pink for the annual #PinkTest. The foundation is aiming to raise $390,000 for breast cancer support. To donate, click here.
If there’s one thing that’s certain about breast cancer, it doesn’t discriminate.
In Australia alone, 16,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease this year. While dealing with it can be a hugely difficult and traumatic time, many women have chosen to be open about their experience to educate and offer support to others going through the same thing.
Here, seven celebrities get candid on their experience with breast cancer.
1. Olivia Newton-John
The Grease actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 – the same weekend her father died of cancer.
“I learned very quickly how important it was for me to think positively. When the second friend I called with the news burst into tears, I thought – this is too stressful. I had to find someone else to handle the day-to-day discussions of my health so I could concentrate on healing,” she recalled for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.
The 68 year old underwent a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction as well as “formulas, meditation and focused on a vision of complete wellness”.
Having been clear for decades, Newton-John does plenty to help those suffering cancer but doesn’t look back on her own journey.
“I really don’t believe in dwelling on anything negative. I remember the cancer enough to be aware to eat properly and exercise but the only thing I dwell on is being well. I like that: I dwell on being well,” she told the Herald Sun.
2. Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue was just about to embark on a world tour when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.
“Someone had said to me at the time, ‘You need to be a little bit selfish’. It’s not in my nature to be selfish but now is the time to do that let people take care of you. And…that’s what I did,” she told 60 Minutes in 2014.
While she was praised for speaking openly about her diagnosis and encouraging other women to get themselves checked, 10 years on Minogue says it’s still not easy to talk about.
“It’s quite difficult to talk about it in interview situations because it’s deep and it’s long and it’s involved and it’s hard to really say what it was in a neat package. It’s pretty strange,” she told Jonathon Ross earlier this year.
4. Sally Obermeder.
TV presenter Sally Obermeder was 41 weeks pregnant with her daughter Annabelle when she was diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive breast cancer.
“You cope, because you have to. You have no choice, you just do it – there’s nothing else you can do really. It wasn’t ideal [being diagnosed while pregnant] but it’s what it was,” she told Mamamia last year.
“Obviously I wish it hadn’t happened but it changed my perception on life. You develop incredible gratitude, and I’m immensely grateful for everything and everyone in my life, and that’s what I’ve probably taken from that time – knowing how fortunate I am.”
football widow ???????? = girls afternoon. ????♂️❤️ ????♂️❤️ Annabelle dressed as if she off to Woodstock ???????? and I’m in the Simply Irresistible top from SWIISH, which we’ve just restocked in limited sizes. It’s a big make so I suggest going down a size if you want one! PS. Go Swannies. Oh no wait. That was yesterday. This weekend is killing me. ????????
She underwent eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy after giving birth.
“There really was no glamour. I didn’t feel pretty but I didn’t want to (and shouldn’t) feel like I had to hide away. Cancer happens and people shouldn’t feel bad. Even if I didn’t feel like myself – and I really did feel like my femininity had been taken away from me – it was all about survival, going out there and living life as best as you can.”
Listen: Tracey Bevan of the McGrath Foundation on the legacy of Jane. Post continues after audio.
4. Sheryl Crow.
Sheryl Crow was preparing for the 2006 Grammy awards when a routine mammogram threw up some unexpected results.
“I was very healthy at the time and almost canceled the mammogram because I had a lot going on. But they called me back and said they could see some things,” she told the New York Post.
The 54 year old was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation to make a full recovery.
She’s now raising funds for Stand Up To Cancer by auctioning items of clothing on eBay to help others.
Honored to share the #BlogHer16 stage with so many influential women today to share my personal experience as a breast cancer survivor and encourage women everywhere to ask their doctors for the more accurate mammogram – the Genius 3D MAMMOGRAPHY exam. Early detection saves lives, and that’s why I’m urging women to ask for #Genius3D, the only mammogram proven to detect breast cancer 15 months earlier than a traditional mammogram. #TheGeniusChoice #ad bit.ly/1TgZb4q
“I was always the kind of person who worked hard to take care of everybody. I didn’t say no to anything, but I didn’t take care of myself very well. I ran myself into the ground. For the first time [after my diagnosis], I was forced to confront my mortality and how I live my life,” she told The Post.
“It made me realise that life goes on if you say no to things — and not to record [music] unless I really felt like it or had something to say. Sometimes you just have to do what’s best for your own well-being. It changed my work ethic and the way I look at life.”
5. Cynthia Nixon.
Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon discovered she had a cancerous tumour in her right breast during a routine mammogram but was initially reluctant to make it public.
“I didn’t want paparazzi at the hospital, that kind of thing,” she told the New York Daily News after undergoing her cancer with a lumpectomy and radiation.
She eventually decided to open up about her experience in order to inspire other women who were also at risk.
Nixon and her wife. Image: Getty
6. Christina Applegate.
As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, actress Christina Applegate said she'd been vigilant about getting regular mammograms since she was 30 years old.
In 2007, her doctor recommended she take extra precautions with an MRI when they discovered a "funky lump".
"[The doctor said], 'It came back positive. Right now I'm sitting here shaking remembering that moment," she told Oprah in 2008.
After a test for the BRCNA gene came back positive, the 44 year old opted for a double mastectomy.
"It came on really fast. It was one of those things that I woke up and it felt so right. It just seemed like, 'I don't want to have to deal with this again. I don't want to keep putting that stuff in my body. I just want to be done with this.' and I was just going to let them go," she said.
It also changed her perspective on life.
"[There's] this need and this desire to make every single day count. I used to say... 'Don't sweat the small stuff -- not even the big stuff.'," she said.
"At the end of the day, none of it matters but your own joy, your own spiritual journey that you go on, God, your loved ones, your friends, your animals. These are the things you've got to cherish and love and embrace."
7. Giuliana Rancic.
The E! host announced she had breast cancer on the Today show in October 2011.
With no family history of the disease, Rancic was diagnosed through a mammogram before undergoing fertility treatment. She had a double lumpectomy in 2011 later followed by a double mastectomy and continues to monitor her health.
"I was very fortunate. Because I've gone public with the breast cancer, I hear a lot of stories and some are not as great as others. Whether it's resulting in complications from surgery...whatever the case. I hear it all. And I realise how fortunate I am...to have just kind of gotten out of there OK because it is such a major surgery," she told CBSnews.com.