Surviving Cancer: How Living With The Illness Changed These Celebrities’ Lives

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It’s officially October. And with cooler breeze, Christmas prep and the faint strain of parang, the month also means that it’s time to talk about that dreaded 6-letter word – CANCER.

With over 21 million projected cancer cases by 2030, cancer is less a taboo and more a commonplace reality for most of the world. In more social parlance, that means at least one person from your average 300-strong Facebook friend list will have cancer during your lifetime.

But it’s not all bad news. While cancer is still the leading cause of death, some 14.5 million people have lived well into remission. That’s 14.5 million people who have braved surgery, chemotherapy, and the combination of weight/appetite/hair loss, to show us that cancer doesn’t have to be the end.

To celebrate their legacy, we’ve lined up some of our favourite inspirational quotes from 13 celebrity cancer survivors. From TV hosts to musicians, actors, models, and sportspeople, their stories are a testament to the fact that we can survive cancer.



One important thing to know is you’re still the same person at the end. You’re stripped down to near zero. But most people come out the other end feeling more like themselves than ever before.


 “Now I have a third must-do on my list of things to do with cancer, and it’s this: follow your gut, ask questions, don’t be complacent.”



“I’m here today because I refused to be unhappy. I took a chance.”


“I didn’t even think of my breasts in a nostalgic way, I just wanted to be able to live my life without that fear all the time. It’s not ‘pity me’, it’s a decision I made that’s got rid of this weight that I was carrying around.”



I think after overcoming breast cancer, you sort of become fearless and somehow going up to your boss to talk about a possible promotion doesn’t seem like such a daunting task anymore.


1 in 8 women get breast cancer. 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 health care a reality.

Naomi Campbell opens new cancer research unit Supermodel Naomi Campbell (right) with mother Valerie after she officially opened Breakthrough Breast Cancer's London research unit at Guy's Hospital, London.


After what I’d been through, my looks weren’t important. When you’re staring into the chasm between life and death, you put things into perspective and whether I was left with one arm, one eye or one breast, staying alive was what mattered


Cancer didn’t bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet.



“In the war against breast cancer, we have the ability to arm ourselves with knowledge and education is a powerful tool. By taking action and doing something positive, fear is replaced with hope.”


I’ve had so many people [say to] me, ‘Gosh, you know, everything’s really gone wrong for you this year,’ and it took me going through that to realize that everything really went right for me…It brought me to this point where I am now, and I really feel like I have a lot of clarity.



Optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use


During chemo, you’re more tired than you’ve ever been. It’s like a cloud passing over the sun, and suddenly you’re out. You don’t know how you’ll answer the door when your groceries are delivered. But you also find that you’re stronger than you’ve ever been. You’re clear. Your mortality is at optimal distance, not up so close that it obscures everything else, but close enough to give you depth perception. Previously, it has taken you weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience. Now it’s instantaneous.



I’m stubborn. It never occurred to me that I might die; however, I knew it was not going to be easy. I worked hard – using meditation, positive affirmations and healers to reframe my cancer as an experience from which a lesson had to be learnt. I didn’t think of it as a bout of bad karma or a death sentence,


Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

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