Cancer doesn't care who you are — it can strike anyone, even celebrities. Wonderwall.com is taking a look at some of the stars who've been diagnosed with cancer over the years, beginning with this influential media star… On Feb. 3, 2020, talk radio king Rush Limbaugh revealed to his listeners that he'd been diagnosed with "advanced lung cancer." The conservative political commentator went on to explain that he first realized something was wrong during his 69th birthday weekend in mid-January after he experienced shortness of breath. He said two medical institutions had since confirmed his diagnosis but that he was, "at the moment, experiencing zero symptoms." He shared that he planned to continue hosting his show as much as he could while undergoing treatment. "We've got a great bunch of doctors, a great team assembled, we're at full speed ahead on this," he said. Nine months later in October 2020, Rush revealed that his stage 4 cancer had progressed. "It's tough to realize that the days where I do not think I'm under a death sentence are over," he told his listeners. "We all know that we're going to die at some point, but when you have a terminal disease diagnosis that has a time frame to it, then that puts a different psychological and even physical awareness to it." Rush passed away on Feb. 17, 2021. Keep reading for more celebs who've had various forms of cancer…
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On Oct. 19, 2020, Jeff Bridges took to social media to reveal he has cancer. "As the Dude would say.. New S*** has come to light," wrote the actor, referencing his "The Big Lebowski" character. "I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good. I'm starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery." He continued, "I'm profoundly grateful for the love and support from my family and friends. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. And, while I have you, please remember to go vote. Because we are all in this together. http://Vote.org Love, Jeff."
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On Sept. 28, 2017, "Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced on Twitter that she had breast cancer. "1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I'm the one," she wrote. "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." In early 2018, she gave fans an update on social media, writing, "Great doctors, great results, feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery."
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"Today" show weatherman, journalist and co-host Al Roker told viewers on Nov. 6, 2020, that he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The NBC star said he was scheduled to have surgery to remove his prostate the following week. "It's a good news-bad news kind of thing," Al told viewers. "Good news is we caught it early. Not-great news is that it's a little aggressive, so I'm going to be taking some time off to take care of this." He added, "We'll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks I'll be back [on 'Today']." Al indeed returned to the morning show a few weeks later.
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On Jan. 14, 2021, TMZ reported that "Saved By the Bell" alum Dustin Diamond had been diagnosed with cancer — and on Jan. 21, TMZ identified it as stage 4 small cell carcinoma, more commonly known as advanced lung cancer, which started somewhere else in his body and metastasized in his lungs. The diagnosis came after Dustin discovered a lump in his throat and experienced all-over body pain, which sent him to a Florida hospital for treatment. The actor famous for playing Screech immediately began chemotherapy, his rep told Entertainment Weekly. He died the morning of Feb. 1, 2021, TMZ reported.
On Jan. 11, 2021, a report from Germany's Bild revealed that Siegfried Fischbacher of "Siegfried & Roy" fame (left) was "terminally ill with pancreatic cancer." The report revealed that the 81-year-old had undergone a "12-hour operation" to remove a malignant tumor and had been "released from a clinic at his own request" so he could return to his Las Vegas home where he was being taken care of by "two hospice workers." Just two days later, the world-renowned entertainer died from the disease. The news emerged eight months after Siegfried's longtime entertainment partner, Roy Horn, died from complications of COVID-19.
In an essay for WebMD published in December 2020, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar revealed that in addition to two previously known health issues — he was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, in 2008 and in 2015 underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery — he is also a prostate cancer survivor. The retired NBA star shared the news as part of a call to action to provide better health care to Black Americans. "I've been fortunate because my celebrity has brought me enough financial security to receive excellent medical attention. No one wants an NBA legend dying on their watch. Imagine the Yelp reviews," he joked in his essay. "But while I'm grateful for my advantages, I'm acutely aware that many others in the Black community do not have the same options and that it is my responsibility to join with those fighting to change that. Because Black lives are at risk. Serious risk." Read his essay in full here.
In 2000, doctors removed about a third of Van Halen co-founder Eddie Van Halen's tongue following a tongue cancer diagnosis. In 2015, Eddie shared his theory with Billboard. "I used metal picks — they're brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer," he said. "Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that's filled with electromagnetic energy. So that's one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it's possible." Then in October 2019, TMZ reported that the guitar legend was suffering from throat cancer and had quietly been flying between the United States and Germany for treatment. Son Wolf Van Halen later confirmed this, telling Howard Stern in a November 2020 interview, "At the end of 2017, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and the doctors were like, 'You have six weeks.' And then he went to Germany. Whatever the f*** they do over there, it's amazing because I got three more years with him." Eddie passed away at 65 on Oct. 6, 2020, following what his son described as a "long and arduous battle" with the disease.
The Wanted member Tom Parker revealed on Oct. 12, 2020, that he's battling an inoperable brain tumor. Six weeks earlier, the British "Glad You Came" singer was, at 32, diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma — an aggressive type of cancer that grows in the brain or spinal cord — and though doctors told him it's terminal, he began radiotherapy and chemotherapy in an effort to shrink the tumor. "We are all absolutely devastated but we are gonna fight this all the way. We don't want your sadness, we just want love and positivity and together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options," Tom and wife Kelsey, who at the time was pregnant with their second child, wrote on Instagram.
On March 6, 2019, Alex Trebek — who began hosting "Jeopardy!" in 1984 — announced in a video message that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer at 78. "Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer," the game show icon explained. "Normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working," he added. "And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease." Alex defied the odds for longer than most, celebrating when he learned in March 2020 that he was among only 18% of patients who make it to a year past their initial diagnosis. He celebrated again in July 2020 when he marked his 80th birthday and released a memoir. But on Nov. 8, 2020 — 20 months after he learned he had pancreatic cancer — he "passed away peacefully at home," the official "Jeopardy!" Twitter account announced, "surrounded by family and friends."
The world only learned that actress Kelly Preston had been diagnosed with breast cancer following her death at 57 on July 12, 2020. A family rep confirmed that the "Jerry Maguire" star had been fighting breast cancer for two years. "Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends," the rep shared. Kelly's husband of 28 years, John Travolta, took to Instagram to thank Kelly's medical team. "My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side," he wrote.
Broadway and "Emily in Paris" actress Ashley Park was diagnosed with leukemia at 15. "Many times people bring up my cancer experience," the Tony- and Grammy-nominated star told Cosmopolitan. "I think it's very important to talk about, but I also appreciate when I'm not asked to talk about the experience, or about how it's informed how I've lived my life." She went on to explain, "I never wanted to be just the Asian girl, just the 'whatever' girl, and then I got to 16 and was the bald girl and the sick girl." During treatment, she always tried to focus on the future, not the "what ifs," she added. "I didn't want to know that I might be infertile or that my heart might stop working or any of that stuff because once you say it, you're thinking about it. Even though my body beat the disease, if I let it change anything, it's won."
Music star Rod Stewart was diagnosed with prostate cancer and beat the disease, he revealed at a Prostate Project charity event in Surrey, England, in September 2019. "Two years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. No one knows this, but I thought this was about time I told everybody. I'm in the clear, now, simply because I caught it early," Rod told the crowd, according to Britain's Daily Mirror. He urged the men in the audience to get checked. "Guys, you've really got to go to the doctor. If you're positive, and you work through it and you keep a smile on your face… I've worked for two years and I've just been happy, and the good Lord looked after me." This was Rod's second bought with cancer: A doctor diagnosed him with thyroid cancer in May 2000. Two days after a biopsy determined that he'd developed the disease, the singer underwent surgery to remove the cancer from his thyroid gland.
On Feb. 4, 2020, "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Charmed" alum Shannen Doherty revealed that her breast cancer had returned. "I'm stage four. So my cancer came back," she told ABC News in an interview that aired on "Good Morning America." "It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways." Shannen went public with her first breast cancer battle after she was diagnosed in early 2015. She sought treatment for two years and then announced she was in remission in 2017. She explained that she learned in early 2019 that the cancer came back but she wasn't ready to speak openly about it at the time. "I'm petrified; I'm pretty scared," she said, adding, "There are definitely days where I say, 'Why me?' And then I go, 'Why not me? Who else?' Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do."
On Oct. 1, 2019, Beyonce and Solange's dad, Mathew Knowles, revealed that he was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2019 at 67. He knew something was wrong when he noticed small spots of blood on his white T shirts. When he went to see his doctor, a mammogram and biopsy confirmed it: He had breast cancer. He underwent surgery in July and is now preparing to have his other breast removed in January 2019 in hopes of reducing his chances of another diagnosis, he told "Good Morning America." Mathew, who has a history of breast cancer in his family, also soon learned through genetic testing that he has a BRCA2 gene mutation, which means he has an increased risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and melanoma. "I want to continue the dialogue on awareness and early detection — male or female," he told "GMA." "The key to this is early detection."
In October 2016, Ben Stiller revealed that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer back in June 2014. The funnyman's doctor detected the cancer with a Prostate-Specific Antigen blood test during the actor's yearly physical. He underwent surgery to treat the disease.
On June 17, 2019, Megadeth rocker Dave Mustaine revealed he has throat cancer. "It's clearly something to be respected and faced head on – but I've faced obstacles before," the heavy metal legend wrote on Facebook. "I'm working closely with my doctors, and we've mapped out a treatment plan which they feel has a 90% success rate. Treatment has already begun." His treatment forced the band to scrap most of its 2019 concerts.
Robin Roberts has battled cancer twice: breast cancer in 2007 and myelodysplastic syndrome — a group of cancers involving the bone marrow — in 2012. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatments, bone marrow transplants, a lumpectomy and a partial mastectomy during her fights against the disease.
Tom Brokaw, a former "NBC Nightly News" anchor and current senior correspondent for NBC News, was diagnosed with the blood cancer multiple myeloma, which causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, in 2013. Tom later told The New York Times that in an effort to put his disease — which is considered treatable but ultimately incurable — into remission, he'd undergone "three years of chemotherapy, a spinal operation that cost me three inches of height, monthly infusions of bone supplements, and drugs to prevent respiratory infection" among other treatments. But his battle left him with "excruciating" pain in his bones, so he's embraced an alternative approach to dealing with the agony. "I'm now on medical marijuana," Tom revealed in a video that made headlines after its release on March 26 on the cancer information site SurvivorNet.
"Dog the Bounty Hunter" star Beth Chapman revealed on Sept. 15, 2017, that she'd been diagnosed with stage II throat cancer. In a letter to friends, she wrote, "I've been dealt my share of unexpected blows over the course of my almost fifty years but nothing as serious as the one I heard from my doctors two weeks ago when they uttered those dreaded three words, 'You have cancer.'" The reality star that after "months of a nagging cough" she decided to see a doctor. That checkup resulted in a diagnosis of stage II throat cancer and a "T2 tumor" that was blocking her breathing. She initially beat it, but 14 months later in November 2018, doctors discovered Beth's cancer had returned. She started chemotherapy in January 2019, but the cancer spread to her lungs. Beth died on June 26, 2019, in Hawaii.
"Inside Edition" host Deborah Norville has a viewer to thank for putting her on the path that led to a cancer diagnosis. "We live in a world of see something, say something, and I'm really glad we do," Deborah said in a video posted on the show's YouTube account on April 1, 2019. "When you work on television, viewers comment on everything. Your hair, your makeup, the dress you're wearing. And a long time ago an 'Inside Edition' viewer reached out to say she'd seen something on my neck. It was a lump." Though doctors initially determined the lump was benign, the thyroid nodule eventually turned cancerous, Deborah explained. "For years, it was nothing. Until recently, it was something. The doctor says it's a very localized form of cancer, which tomorrow, I'll have surgery to have removed. There will be no chemo, I'm told no radiation."
Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 1992. More than 20 years later in 2013, the "Grease" alum learned it had returned — this time in her shoulder. In 2017, the cancer came back a third time, surfacing in the base of her spine. "The pain level was really the hardest thing. I was trying to do shows and it was pretty agonizing. I can walk, but I can't go long distances," she told Australia's "60 Minutes." The Australian singer-actress has been undergoing herbal and photon radiation therapies as well as using cannabis oil to help her deal with her pain as she continues to fight the disease.
Hugh Jackman has been treated for skin cancer several times since late 2013 — including in early 2016, when he had a basal cell carcinoma removed from his nose.
In January 2019, actor Sam Lloyd — who might be best known for his hilarious run as lawyer Ted on "Scrubs" (pictured) — learned he had cancer, and that it had spread. He initially chalked up a 10-pound weight loss to his busy schedule and the headaches he'd been having to lack of sleep since he and wife Vanessa had recently welcomed their first child together. But when Sam went to see a doctor, who ordered a CT scan thinking it was a sinus issue, he learned the truth: "The scan revealed a mass on Sam's brain. Within a day, he was in brain surgery. Unfortunately the tumor was too intertwined so the surgeons couldn't remove it," a GoFundMe page launched by a friend in February 2019 explained. Soon, "Sam and Vanessa were informed that the cancer in his brain had metastasized from his lungs. Further scans showed the cancer was also in his liver, spine, and jaw." Sam and his wife have remained "incredibly strong and positive" in the face of the news, notes the GoFundMe page author. "Humor and laughter, which have been a huge part of Sam's life, will undoubtedly help him with what lies ahead."
Cobie Smulders was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. The "Avengers" franchise and "How I Met Your Mother" star underwent multiple surgeries and used a wide variety of alternative medicine techniques to treat the disease.
In January 2019, country music singer John Berry revealed that he's battling throat cancer. But he and his wife made clear to fans that they're staying strong as he undergoes treatment. "You don't see fear on these faces," John's wife, Robin, said in a Facebook video. "We have a planned regimen and John is undergoing treatment for about five weeks. We've had to move a couple of tour dates around. All is going well. We are trusting God to get us through this time." According to John, the cancer is "highly treatable and has an incredible cure rate."
Christina Applegate had a double mastectomy after cancer was detected in one of her breasts in 2008. Though she initially had a lumpectomy, which doctors recommended she follow with radiation since the cancer had been detected early, she made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy after learning she was positive for the BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases the chances of a breast cancer recurrance. "It just seemed like, 'I don't want to have to deal with this again. I don't want to keep putting that stuff in my body. I just want to be done with this.' And I was just going to let them go," she told Oprah Winfrey of her decision.
In April 2017, Val Kilmer finally confirmed what fans and friends had long suspected: He'd battled cancer. After previously denying that he was suffering from the disease, he revealed in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" with fans on April 26 that he'd beat it. A fan asked, "A while ago, MichaelDouglas claimed you had terminal cancer. What was the story behind that?" Val replied, "He was probably trying to help me cause press probably asked where I was these days, and I did have a healing of cancer, but my tongue is still swollen altho healing all the time. Because I don't sound my normal self yet people think I may still be under the weather."
In an interview with "Extra" in 2017, Larry King revealed that he'd been diagnosed with lung cancer. "It wasn't really a battle. It was really strange," the legendary TV host said. "I have a checkup every year. I've gone through a lot in my life — I've had a heart attack and heart surgery. Part of my checkup is the chest X-ray, and that is the protocol. I do it every year… it was always normal. Then the doctor says, 'I see a little spot here. Let's do a CAT scan, so they do a CAT scan, and they say, 'Let's do a PET scan'… I don't think there are any other scans." Doctors, Larry said, knew they wanted to get rid of the spot, but didn't know if the spot was malignant or benign. In July 2017, he had it removed. "I had the surgery here at [Cedars Sinai Hospital]. They took it out. It was malignant," Larry said. "They were going to take it out if it was malignant or benign. They tested it. They said, 'You are fine.' It was stage 1."
Robert De Niro was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003.
Sheryl Crow underwent a lumpectomy and radiation after a mammogram detected her breast cancer in 2006.
Sharon Osbourne battled colon cancer in 2002. She had a foot of her colon removed and then underwent chemotherapy as part of her treatment. A decade later, Ozzy Osbourne's missus had a double mastectomy after she discovered that she was at risk for breast cancer.
In 2010, Michael Douglas underwent treatment for tongue cancer — but claimed at the time that he was battling throat cancer — after a doctor found a walnut-size tumor at the base of his tongue. The Oscar winner reportedly blamed his health on a more easily treatable form of cancer to avoid alarming the public. (Michael's doctor warned him that he risked losing part of his jaw and tongue in surgery to treat the disease.)
Erin Andrews secretly battled cervical cancer following a September 2016 diagnosis. She underwent surgery rather than radiation or chemotherapy.
In 2015, Rita Wilson underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
A doctor diagnosed Giuliana Rancic with early-stage breast cancer in the fall of 2011 while she was undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments. The hostess underwent a lumpectomy and radiation before making the decision to have a double mastectomy. She welcomed son Duke via surrogate the following year.
Cynthia Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2006. Her mother, Anne, had also battled the disease.
Michelle Monaghan had a chunk of her calf removed after a doctor determined that a mole on the back of her leg was cancerous.
In 2003, Kathy Bates battled ovarian cancer. In 2012, she underwent a double mastectomy after doctors found a tumor during a scan.
In 2009, doctors diagnosed Maura Tierney with breast cancer. She underwent a skin-sparing mastectomy and three months of regular chemotherapy as part of her treatment.
Edie Falco battled breast cancer in 2003. She underwent chemotherapy to treat the disease.
Music star Eddie Money revealed in a clip from his reality show "Real Money" that was released on Aug. 24, 2019, that he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. "Am I gonna live a long time? Who knows, it's in God's hands," the "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight" performer said. "But you know what? I'll take every day I can get. Every day above ground is a good day." Eddie passed away less than a month later on Sept. 13.
Melanie Griffith had skin cancer removed from her nose that resulted in a permanent black-and-blue mark on her face. "It's a scary thing when you're an actress and you depend on your face for work," Melanie told InStyle in 2018 after she had the procedure. "But I realize I have to put a Band-Aid on it, and it's fine. I just look like a dork."
Khloe Kardashian had eight inches of skin removed from her back after she discovered a cancerous mole sometime in the early aughts. The reality TV star and skin cancer survivor now has her moles checked regularly.
On Sept. 11, 2019, Cameron Mathison — a former "All My Children" actor-turned-"Entertainment Tonight" correspondent and "Hallmark Channel" host — revealed that he's been diagnosed with renal cancer. "I have a health situation that I want to share with you all…" he captioned an Instagram photo of his family. "About a month ago, I had an MRI for some gut issues I've been having, and during that MRI they found a tumor on my right kidney. It's consistent with Renal Cell Carcinoma … or kidney cancer. The good news is that it hasn't spread to any other organs🙏🏼 They say my healthy lifestyle and diet has no doubt helped keep it from growing and spreading to other areas, as doctors think it's been growing in me for minimum 10 years🙏🏼. I am extremely lucky that we found it early." After undergoing surgery on Sept. 12, Cameron shared a photo of himself in the hospital with his kids, writing in part, "The surgery went very well. The tumor is gone and I even got to keep 80% of my kidney😊 We are all optimistic."
"Good Day L.A." alum Jillian Barberie revealed on Nov. 1, 2018, that she has breast cancer. "Results back. It's cancer in my right breast but also it has spread to my lymph node. Appointment at Bedford Breast to assess everything. I'm going to be super aggressive and do double mastectomy and they said I need chemo for the lymph. Thanks for coming on this journey with me!" she told fans via Twitter. Jillian, who has two kids with ex-husband Grant Reynolds, Roco and Ruby, explained that telling her children what was happening was weighing on her. "I think the hardest part about a cancer diagnosis is telling your kids … I called Dr. Drew to help me with what to say," she explained on Twitter. "I'm not going to sugar coat it but I also don't want to scare them." The next day, she shared that they "took it pretty well" and that she was able to find humor in the situation: 8-year-old Rocoo asked her if he could catch it.
Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres — who was previously married to singer Marc Anthony, with whom she has two sons — announced on Feb. 4, 2019, that she's been diagnosed with skin cancer that has started to spread. "As mothers we are always taking care of everyone around us… our kids, family, friends & often we forget to take care of ourselves," she began a lengthy Instagram post on World Cancer Day. "I have been diagnosed with skin cancer 'melanoma' from a big spot/mole I never paid attention to, even though it was new, it had been growing for years & had an uneven surface. My fiancé Louis [D'Esposito] had been begging me to have it checked & finally made an appointment himself… after a biopsy & a second surgery … the results unfortunately are positive. Now we are waiting to see which treatment I will be receiving but they have already removed a big area from the back of my knee & also they have removed 2 lymph nodes at the top of my leg where it had already spread. Hoping it has not spread to any more areas or organs. 🙏🏻." Dayanara also told fans she has "put everything in God's hands & I know he has all control… My sons although a bit scared know about my faith and know they have a warrior of a mommy!"