Happy Mother’s Day! As we honor all the moms in our lives on their special day, here’s a tribute to three famous celebrity moms who beat breast cancer – and went on to share their stories and make a difference for cancer patients and survivors around the world.
Shown here with her daughter Chloe Rose Lattanzi, Olivia Newton-John shot to stardom with her role as Sandy in the movie musical Grease. She also went on to become a Grammy Award-winning musician with chart-topping hits like “Let’s Get Physical” and “I Honestly Love You.”
Then, in 1992, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, as she shares in this interview with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
After finding an unusual lump during a self-exam, Newton-John went to the doctor for a series of tests, including a mammogram and a needle biopsy. After her diagnosis, she received chemotherapy and a partial mastectomy.
It was an especially frightening time for her daughter Chloe, who was only 6. Newton-John told Everyday Health, “(Chloe) ended up finding out at school when a playmate came up to her and said, "I hear your mum's got cancer." When she came home and approached me about it, she was angry and said: ‘You should have told me. I could have taken care of you!’
“I'll never forget that moment,” said Newton-John.
After her treatment, she made a full recovery. Then, in 2005, Newton-John recorded “Stronger Than Before,” an album dedicated to cancer patients and their families. A portion of the proceeds from album sales went to cancer research. The album also included the song “Can I Trust Your Arms,” a track she co-wrote with her daughter Chloe.
And, in 2008, she founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre – a hospital in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
Newton-John is especially passionate about raising awareness for breast cancer self-exams – the practice that saved her own life.
“I don't tell the story to scare people but to really stress the importance of knowing your own body and trusting your instincts,” said Newton-John. “This is the very reason I am now such a big supporter of monthly breast self-exams.”
These days, she still actively tours and performs: you can see her now, live, at the Flamingo Las Vegas. And, her new EP, “Hotel Sessions,” released in April 2014.
“Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon – shown here with her partner Christine Marinoni and their newborn son Max – has racked up a lot of achievements in her lifetime, including an Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award.
But, surviving cancer is one of her greatest accomplishments.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, when her two older children, Samantha and Charles, were just 10 and 4, she immediately underwent radiation and a lumpectomy. Doctors caught the cancer early during a routine mammogram, and Nixon was able to make a complete recovery and resume her acting career.
Her battle with breast cancer was especially poignant because her mother, Anne Knoll Nixon, struggled with breast cancer for nearly 35 years, she shared in an interview with After Ellen.
According to Susan G. Komen, women with an immediate family history of breast cancer are more likely to contract the disease themselves. Nixon emphasized that fact when she spoke to doctors, patients and cancer survivors and shared her story at the Long Island Breast Cancer Summit in 2013.
Today, she’s a tireless breast cancer activist and an ambassador for Susan G. Komen – as well as juggling her role on NBC’s “Hannibal” and her upcoming return to Broadway. Nixon also shared with the TODAY Show in 2014 that she wouldn’t say no to another “Sex and the City” movie, either.
One of the few child actors to transition to a successful adult career, Christina Applegate started out playing Kelly Bundy on the popular TV show “Married...with Children.”
Applegate grew up to earn multiple awards and nominations for her film, theater and television roles – including her memorable turn as Veronica Corningstone in “Anchorman” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
In 2008, life took an unexpected turn when an MRI revealed a mass in her right breast. Later, a biopsy confirmed a breast cancer diagnosis, she shared in a story and interview with Women’s Health.
Applegate carried the BRCA1 gene, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and makes it more likely that cancer will recur, according to the National Cancer Institute. She also had a family history of the disease – her mother, Nancy Priddy, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38.
Applegate made the decision to have a double mastectomy – followed by reconstructive surgery, just four days before her 37th birthday.
"I've never had a year where I got hit hard that much," she said. "The amount of things that happened in a really short period of time – devastating."
But, Applegate bounced back quickly, and became an outspoken cancer advocate.
After her diagnosis, she appeared on a 2008 TV special called “Stand Up To Cancer,” a breast cancer research fundraiser. Applegate also served as a spokesperson for Lee National Denim Day, a multi-million dollar fundraiser for breast cancer research and education.
And, finally, Applegate founded the organization Right Action for Women – a nonprofit that funds MRI scans for high-risk young women who cannot afford testing. An early MRI saved her life, so she wants to give others the same chance.
"We’re into almost 500 now," she shared in an “Entertainment Tonight” interview in 2014. "We've spent over half a million dollars on MRIs, which is really incredible, which is a lot of money."
Oh, and in 2011, she gave birth to Sadie Grace, the little sweetheart in the picture above.
She’s determined that Sadie will grow up strong and healthy: "We have her on a completely plant-based diet," Applegate said. "It's because I want her to have the best chance possible."
To read about other celebrities who beat cancer, click here.
P.S. Don’t forget, this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day.