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12 Celebrities Who Beat Cancer

Well-known figures, including Robin Roberts and Robert De Niro, have battled the disease

  • AP

    Ann Romney

      En español l The presidential candidate’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and underwent a lumpectomy — and has since been cancer-free. In 2012, Romney spoke about her battle with cancer and how the disease took the lives of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

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    Colin Powell

      Our first African American secretary of state was diagnosed with prostate cancer while serving in the George W. Bush administration in 2003. Powell underwent a prostatectomy later that year.

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    Olivia Newton-John

      The “Let’s Get Physical” singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, but treatments put the disease in remission the next year. Active in cancer-prevention research and fundraising ever since, she helped open the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

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    Robin Roberts

      ABC’s Good Morning America anchor dealt with breast cancer in 2007 and was able to overcome it a year later. In 2012 came more bad news: a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the blood and bone marrow. Thanks to a 2012 transplant to treat the MDS, Roberts has been in remission for two years.

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    Martina Navratilova

      The tennis star was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 53 in 2010; doctors treated it with surgery and radiation. She was able to return to the court later that year.

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    Fran Drescher

      After two years of misdiagnoses by numerous specialists, the actress finally learned she had uterine cancer in 2000. Drescher underwent surgery and radiation that year, then — Fran being Fran — wrote a book about her experience titled Cancer Schmancer (Warner Books, 2002).

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    Robert De Niro

      Thanks to regular medical checkups, the actor’s prostate cancer was diagnosed at an early stage in 2003. In December of that year, De Niro had surgery, a typical treatment option when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland.

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    Rudy Giuliani

      New York City’s mayor from 1994 to 2001, Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer by a routine PSA screening during his next-to-last year in office. Aggressive treatments were successful but left him impotent, the mayor’s divorce lawyer revealed with his permission in May 2001.

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    Wanda Sykes

      The outspoken comedian announced her diagnosis of DCIS — a type of breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ — on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September 2011. She opted to have a double mastectomy that year and soon returned to stand-up comedy.

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    Lance Armstrong

      Treated for testicular cancer in 1996, the Texas cyclist bounced back to win the Tour de France seven times — only to have his titles stripped in 2012 because of doping offenses. His Livestrong Foundation, however, is still going strong and since 1997 has raised over $500 million to “inspire and empower” people and families affected by cancer.

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    Nile Rodgers

    In 2010, prostate cancer nearly grounded the high-flying guitarist, producer and cofounder of Chic, the 1970s-80s R&B/disco band. Three years later, however, Rodgers announced on Twitter that doctors had given him the all clear. He’s now enjoying a late-career renaissance thanks to his Grammy-winning collaboration with the pop duo Daft Punk.

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    Sharon Jones

    Pancreatic cancer sidelined the fiery soul singer in 2013 when she submitted to surgery and chemotherapy to combat it. Jones completed her final chemo session on New Year’s Eve and was back on the stage a couple of months later.

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