Kathy Bates, who survived battles with both ovarian cancer in 2003 and stage II breast cancer in 2012, claims that she was told not to talk about her illness. Because apparently on top of having cancer, having cancer is also detrimental to your public image. Priorities.
“My manager didn’t want me to be the poster child for ovarian cancer,” she tells Future of Personal Health. Not only that, but even her doctor warned her to keep it hush-hush. She tells WebMD:
Even my gynecologist, whose husband worked in the business, warned that I shouldn’t come out with it because of the stigma in Hollywood. So I was very careful. But then I saw Melissa Etheridge doing a concert and just wailing on her guitar with her bald head, and I thought, ‘Wow, I wanna be her!’
Bates got a double mastectomy in 2012, with the removal of 19 lymph nodes, and now only wears prosthetic breasts if she needs to for a role. Because she has bigger fish to fry, for example, using her publicity to get the word out so that people are diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness in time. Since, Bates has become a spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN).
In that spirit of recovery and celebrating life, she tells WedMD a lovely story of a bird which crashed into her window. She held it as it writhed in agony for a few moments, and then it got back up and flew away.
“My niece said, ‘Are you getting the message yet?’ I asked what message she meant,” says Bates. “She said, ‘Life goes on. You’ve been given another chance.’ That was a very powerful lesson.”
And Bates got back up and starred in American Horror Story the next year.
Kathy Bates is an Academy award-winning actress and two-time Oscar nominee.