Famous Survivors

Posted by gribbon on May 26, 2013  /   Posted in Blog, Famous Survivors

Famous Faces of Breast Cancer


Shirley Temple Black, 70 – This accomplished child actress and diplomat was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 1972. She has a simple mastectomy following her diagnosis and recovered well.

Nancy Brinker, 51 – author of “The Race is Won One Step at a Time” and the founder of the Susan G. Komen Foundation

Diahann Carroll, 63 – Carroll was an actress and singer. She could not feel the lump in her breast and therefore, was able to ignore it until she had to have a full lumpectomy followed by twelve weeks of radiation.

Rachel Carson – She was a scientist and pioneer in the American and international environmental movement, as well as authored the well renowned book “Silent Spring” on the topic. Tragically, her research may have caused her her life. The toxins that she came into contact with have now been proven to cause breast cancer. She died of the disease on April 14, 1964.

Julia Child, 86 – This infamous chef and television host was diagnosed at age 55. She underwent a mastectomy with no chemo therapy follow up.

Jill Eikenberry, 52 – Star of L.A.Law, this star was diagnosed right before her show was about to premier in 1986. Eikenberry underwent a lumpectomy and went on to recover fully.

Linda Ellerbee, 54 – This Nickelodeon News host first discovered a lump in her breast in 1991. Her complaints were originally disregarded because her lumps were painful. Her pain continued however, so she sought a second opinion. Her lump was found to be malignant in her left breast, and precancerous cells were found in her right breast. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy.

Peggy Fleming, 49 – The figure skater found a lump in her breast in 1986. She underwent a biopsy, and it showed a slow-growing tubular carcinoma. The best form of treatment for her particular condition was a lumpectomy and radiation, which she responded well to.

Betty Ford – The former first lady was one of the first women to come out and discuss her breast cancer. Just seven weeks prior to her husband taking office, she had a mastectomy and recovered fully. Her brave and public struggle with the disease paved the way and made it possible for other women to seek comfort in each other in what had before been an intensely private issue.


Ruth Handler – Handler, the creator of the Barbie Doll, was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy in the 1970’s. Following her operation, which she found quite dehabiliating, she resigned as President of Mattel and began a company called “Nearly Me”, which manufactured prosthetic limbs;

June Jordan, 62 – This professor of African- American studies and renowned author and poet has become one of the leading advocates of Breast Cancer. She was diagnosed in 1992 after demanding a biopsy due to an abnormal mammogram.

Patti LaBelle, 57 – LaBelle is a very well known singer, author and advocate. She stood by and watched her mother as well as her three sisters’ die of cancer before any of them reacted 45 years of age. She used the tragedy in her life for good however and in 2001, received the Woman of Courage Award from the HollyRod Foundation.

Rue McClanahan – Best known for playing feisty Golden Girl Blanche, McClanahan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. Following her diagnosis, she underwent treatment and became one of the most outspoken celebrities about the issue and dedicated herself to help other women with their struggle.faces_jacklyn_smith

Dr. Jerri Nielsen, 47 – Dr. Nielsen was a physician who chose to practice at a US camp on the south pole. She was the only doctor there. When she found a lump on her breast, she performed her own biopsy and sent it back to Denver for evaluation. Her biopsy turned out to be positive and she began her own treatment, including chemotherapy. She was airlifted out in 1999 and continued her treatment in the United States.

Olivia Newton-John, 50 – Probably best known for her role as “Sandy” in Grease, Newton-John has several scares over the years, but was finally diagnosed in 1992 with a malignant tumor in her right breast. She chose to have an MRM followed by reconstruction.

Sandra Day O’Connor, 68 – O’Connor was the first women appointed to the Supreme Court. She suffered with her illness privately, but went public with her struggle in 1988 at a meeting of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. Bravely, O’Connor returned to the bench a mere five days after her mastectomy.


Cokie Robert, 58 – This well known political journalist was diagnosed when a small tumor was discovered in her left breast. She underwent a lumpectomy and recovered successfully.

Stephanie Spielman, 31 – Spielman is the wife of NFL linebacker Chris Spielman. After his wife was diagnosed, Chris took an early retirement and the couple dedicated themselves fully to her treatment and recovery as well as the care of their two young children.

Suzanne Somers – This well known actress has just recently made public her year long struggle with the disease. She was a pioneer in spiritual and homeopathic cures.

Other notable names:

  • Marcia Wallace
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Jaclyn Smith
  • Carly Simon
  • Betty Rollin
  • Nancy Reagan
  • Ann Jillian
  • Kate Jackson
  • Shelly Hamlin
  • Lucy Grijalva

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