10 Famous People Who Survived a Cancer Diagnosis

More than one-third of people will be diagnosed with cancer over their lifetime (National Cancer Institute, 2018) – and those in the public eye are no exception. Since today (June 7th) is National Cancer Survivors Day, there’s no better time to acknowledge and celebrate famous people who overcame cancer! Read on for information about celebrities who survived cancer, including the type of cancer they had, when they were diagnosed, and a piece of advice relating to cancer.


Ben Stiller

  • Claim to Fame: Actor (Movies include Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Night at the Museum)
  • Type of Cancer: Prostate
  • Diagnosis Year: 2014
  • Age at Diagnosis: 48
  • Cancer Advice: “Whether you think it’s helpful or not, consider getting a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test… Instead of waiting until you are 50, consider getting tested as early as 40.”

Olivia Newton-John

  • Claim to Fame: Singer and Actress (Starred in Grease)
  • Type of Cancer: Breast
  • Diagnosis Year: 1992
  • Age at Diagnosis: 44
  • Cancer Advice: “I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff.”

Hugh Jackman

  • Claim to Fame: Actor (Wolverine in X-Men)
  • Type of Cancer: Skin
  • Diagnosis Year: 2013
  • Age at Diagnosis: 45
  • Cancer Advice: “REMINDER: Get your skin checked.”

Sheryl Crow

  • Claim to Fame: Singer (Songs include “All I Wanna Do” and “Soak Up the Sun”)
  • Type of Cancer: Breast
  • Diagnosis Year: 2006
  • Age at Diagnosis: 44
  • Cancer Advice: “You can’t say, ‘I did this, and that’s why I got cancer.’ You have to not beat yourself up.”

Robert De Niro

  • Claim to Fame: Actor (Movies include “Raging Bill,” “Goodfellas,” and “The Godfather: Part II”)
  • Type of Cancer: Prostate
  • Diagnosis Year: 2003
  • Age at Diagnosis: 60
  • Cancer Advice: “Time goes on. So whatever you’re going to do, do it. Do it now. Don’t wait.”

Hoda Kotb

  • Claim to Fame: Today Show Co-Host
  • Type of Cancer: Breast
  • Diagnosis Year: 2010
  • Age at Diagnosis: 43
  • Cancer Advice: “If you have a friend or family member with breast cancer, try not to look at her with ‘sad eyes.’ Treat her like you always did, just show a little extra love.”

Colin Powell

  • Claim to Fame: U.S. Secretary of State (under George W. Bush)
  • Type of Cancer: Prostate
  • Diagnosis Year: 2003
  • Age at Diagnosis: 66
  • Cancer Advice: “Men should have regular prostate examinations. Black men are more susceptible to the disease than others. Regular exams allowed me to deal with this problem early and make a full recovery.\”

Sharon Osbourne

  • Claim to Fame: TV Personality; Wife to Ozzy Osbourne
  • Type of Cancer: Colon
  • Diagnosis Year: 2002
  • Age at Diagnosis: 49
  • Cancer Advice: “Don’t be afraid, and it’s essential to keep a strong, positive state of mind.”

Lance Armstrong

  • Claim to Fame: Professional Cyclist
  • Type of Cancer: Testicular
  • Diagnosis Year: 1996
  • Age at Diagnosis: 25
  • Cancer Advice: “We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.”

Robin Roberts

  • Claim to Fame: Good Morning America Anchor
  • Type of Cancer: Breast
  • Diagnosis Year: 2007
  • Age at Diagnosis: 47
  • Cancer Advice: “Be patient and persistent. Life is not so much what you accomplish as what you overcome.” 


National Cancer Institute. (2018). Cancer Statistics. Retrieved June 5, 2020, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics

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