At the age of 37 in 2008, Christina Applegate announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. An MRI revealed the cancer, and tests revealed Applegate was a carrier of the BRCA gene (her mother is also a breast cancer survivor). She had a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery, and has been cancer-free since. She opened up to ELLE about what it's like living with her body post-surgery: "And then you start to live with those boobs, and it's your reminder every day that this thing happened to you, unfortunately, and it's a part of your body that's changed drastically, and embracing that is difficult sometimes."
Luckily, Applegate was able to welcome a baby, Sadie Grace, in January 2011.
Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow discovered she had breast cancer in 2006, soon after ending her engagement with Lance Armstrong. In a cover story for AARP The Magazine, the mom of adopted sons Wyatt and Levi said: "That was a really, really emotional time for me. My world was falling apart. I felt like the bottom had just dropped out." She revealed that she had "minimally invasive" surgery, and has been cancer-free since.
From the beginning, E! News host Giuliana Rancic was very open about her breast cancer experience. She underwent a double mastectomy only a few months after announcing her diagnosis. She and hubby Bill welcomed a son via gestational carrier the next year, and this proud wife and mom gave the credit to her partner for getting her through the ordeal. "Bill was everything. My husband was everything throughout the process, from getting diagnosed 'til today," she told CBSNews.com. "And I don't know how I would have done it without him. I can't even imagine having gone through breast cancer without having an incredible person by my side to help me through it."
Good Morning America news anchor Amy Robach underwent a mammogram on live TV two years ago—and the reporting that was intended to help bring awareness to breast cancer and encourage women to get mammograms ended up saving her own life. Robach was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a double mastectomy, and endured eight rounds of chemotherapy.
Today, Robach is cancer free, and has published a book, Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held On to Hope, and Found Joy in My Darkest Hour, about her cancer experience and how it affected everything from her marriage to actor Andrew Shue to her parenting (Robach has two daughters from a previous marriage; Shue has three sons). "I've decided not to die before I die. I live better now," she wrote on abcnews.com. "I am a better parent. I yell less and cuddle more with my daughters. I am a better wife. I yell less and choose my words more carefully remembering we are what we say."
On HBO's Sex & the City, the sassy Samantha battles breast cancer, bringing all the girls closer together. In real life, Cynthia Nixon—who plays Miranda on the show—was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She didn't speak up about her experience until a few weeks before the first Sex & the City movie came out in 2008. While on Good Morning America, Nixon explained that she initially didn't share her diagnosis because she felt there was a stigma around the disease. Today, she's a healthy mom of three and an ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
"If I could have, I would have chosen not to go through cancer or my divorces in public. Yet, you can't say 'I'm only going to let the public see the good stuff,'" Melissa Etheridge said in an AARP The Magazine cover story. The singer, songwriter, and activist has been open about her struggle with breast cancer, which she beat in 2004 after chemotherapy. She's the mom of two children from her first marriage to Julie Cypher. In 2006, she had twins with then-partner Tammy Lynn MIchaels.
Nurse Jackie star Edie Falco battled breast cancer in 2003, survived the difficult disease, and went into remission. She went on to welcome two children via adoption: a son in 2005, and a daughter in 2008. "Around February 2004 when I realized cancer wasn't going to kill me, the answer was clear. For years I'd been waiting to start a family, but surviving cancer has a way of making you reprioritize. I was 40. And I was single. But it was time. So I began the adoption process," she wrote in an article for Health.com. "I did wonder if it was really fair to be adopting when I wasn't sure the cancer wouldn't come back. But every cell in my body needed and wanted to be a mother. And when this boy, Anderson, who is so magnificent and who looks so much like me, was born in January 2005, I thought, 'Maybe this is the way my life is supposed to have turned out.'"
Mom of five boys and wife to 2012 Republican president candidate Mitt, Ann Romney has been honest and vocal about her health issues. In addition to being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, she also suffers from multiple sclerosis. She survived ductal carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive type of breast cancer, and underwent a lumpectomy. Because the cancer was essentially stage zero, she was able to avoid chemotherapy. Of the experience, she told America's Radio News, "You don't fight...alone, you fight...with friends and with family, and you put your arms around each other and you move forward. I think the most important lesson I can learn from that is early diagnosis is so important."
It was a self-exam that helped Grease star Olivia Newton-John discover her breast cancer. Her treatment lasted about a year, and in an interview with Susan G. Komen (for which she is a spokeswoman) she said her experience was East-meets-West approach. "I meditated every day, did yoga, used homeopathy, ate well—I boosted my inner strength as much as I could," said the mom of one. "When bad thoughts came in, I pushed them right out. I had what's called a modified radical mastectomy with reconstruction done to my breast immediately—a woman can be traumatized waking up with nothing there." She's been in remission since 1998.
Though she was never officially diagnosed, Angelina Jolie said she wanted to be around for her children, so she took her health into her own hands. After discovering that she carried the 'faulty' gene, BRCA1, which increases a woman's risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, she underwent a preventive double mastectomy and had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well. Part of the reason for these drastic measures, she said, was losing both her mother and grandmother to cancer. "I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren," she wrote in an essay for The New York Times. "It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options, and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power."
Suzanne Somers known for her roles in Three's Company and those amazing 80s exercise videos—was diagnosed at the age of 55, in 2001, and had half of her breast removed. At the time, the two most common breast reconstruction options were breast implants and TRAM flap (using some of the muscle in your lower abdomen), and Somers wasn't a fan of either. She researched and helped to bring the first medical trials to the United States for cell-assisted lipotransfer (or stem cell breast reconstruction), and ultimately became the first American woman to have the surgery. On getting well, Somers said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, "I decided I would value sleep because up until that time, I'd go to bed at three o'clock and getting five hours of sleep maybe, which I now know is such a game changer, and I value sleep. People say to me, 'Oh, it's so much work what you do.' I go, 'Yeah, but it's a lot more work to be sick.'"