Celebrities who beat the Big C

4 June 2021

What do Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackman, Sofia Vergara and Robert De Niro have in common?

Answer – they’re all cancer survivors. This Sunday is National Cancer Survivors Day (June 6), an international day dedicated to raising awareness about cancer, cancer survivors and those currently living with a diagnosis.

June is also Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, bowel cancer being one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Australia and potentially one of the most preventable through the early detection of abnormalities from screening.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends a free bowel cancer screening kit to Australians aged 50-74 every two years.

Bowel cancer screening saves lives. It is the best way of detecting bowel cancer early, because the disease often develops without symptoms (such as bleeding from the rectum, loose stools or constipation, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue).

So, when you receive your kit, it’s important that you complete and return it.

Cancer is responsible for about 30 per cent of deaths in Australia, with a new cancer case diagnosed every four minutes.

Cancer Australia says around one third of cancers are potentially preventable. Lifestyle factors can affect a person’s risk of developing the disease. Quitting smoking, being sun smart, maintaining a healthy diet, getting active and limiting alcohol intake can all help with prevention.

Proving that cancer can be conquered is a long list of celebrities who have taken on and beaten the Big C:

Kylie Minogue postponed her 2005 Australian Showgirl tour after being diagnosed with breast cancer, going into remission after an 18-month fight and resuming her tour.

Olivia Newton-John successfully beat breast cancer in 1992, which inspired her to create the ONJ Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

Singer Delta Goodrem was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 18, a cancer of the lymphatic system that can spread to vital organs.

Modern Family star Sofia Vergara had her thyroid removed after being diagnosed with cancer in 2000, then aged just 28.

British super star Rod Stewart is also in remission from thyroid cancer. He is a high-profile supporter of the City of Hope Foundation, which works to improve treatments for all types of cancer.

Peter Criss, the original drummer for rock band KISS, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. "It's a disease for women but 2% of men get this in the world and they need to be educated about it, " Criss told USA Today.

Hugh Jackman has had six bouts with basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer. After having cancer removed from his face, Jackman shared some sage advice on Twitter: “WEAR SUNSCREEN."

Robert De Niro was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in 2003. Luckily, they found it early enough that the disease had not spread.

Ben Stiller was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016, at age 48.

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell underwent a special surgery in 2003 called radical prostatectomy, which involves removing the entire prostate gland and some nearby pelvic lymph nodes. Since then, he is cancer-free and has become an advocate for prostate cancer awareness.

Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017 and broke the news on Twitter: “One in eight women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.” Louis-Dreyfus underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy to beat it.

Jane Fonda spoke about her multiple battles with cancer in British Vogue in 2019. “I’ve had a lot of cancer,” she said. “I was a sun-worshipper. When I have a day off, I frequently go to my skin doctor and have things cut off me by a surgeon.” She also had a mastectomy in 2016 following breast cancer.

The Nanny icon Fran Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000. “It was strange - and kind of poetic - that my reproductive organs, of all things, had cancer,” she wrote in a 2019 essay for InStyle. Drescher is the founder of Cancer Schmancer, an advocacy group that focuses on prevention, early detection and policy change.

In July 2008, actress Christina Applegate underwent a double mastectomy after doctors found cancerous lumps in one of her breasts. Of having reconstructive surgery, the Married with Children star said: "You know, I'm going to have cute boobs till I'm 90’’.

Sharon Osbourne’s 2002 fight against colorectal cancer was seen worldwide on MTV show The Osbournes. She recovered through early detection, minor surgery and chemotherapy. Osbourne, wife of rock ghoul Ozzy, went on to establish the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program, which provides at-home help to colon cancer patients.