In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we spoke with the Academy Award-winning actress about her experience battling the disease. We’ll be sharing this in three parts throughout the week. (For Part Two; Part Three.)
The Breast Cancer Site: Many women who share on the TheBreastCancerSite.com mention the difficulty of discussing their diagnosis with friends and family. I imagine this would be even more difficult as a public figure who wants to retain their privacy, but you likely also have the awareness that sharing your story might be comforting or inspiring for other women. How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to go public, and what sort of reaction have you received?
Kathy Bates: Education. Breast Cancer is epidemic. While I was going to the clinic for follow-ups I learned the doctors are seeing women in their 20s now with this diagnosis. Knowledge is power. The better you are informed about how to check your own breasts and familiarize yourself with how your own particular tissue feels, the sooner YOU will know when to see your doctor. You are your own first line of defense. I’ve never been a fan of the gossip side of the entertainment industry. I believe everyone has a right to his or her own privacy whether you are famous or not. I decided to use my celebrity to raise awareness and possibly help someone else.
What did you find most surprising about your experience of moving through the process of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery?
Oddly enough I wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. It was ironic that only two days before I had been giving a keynote address at Sloan-Kettering about how lucky I was to have survived Ovarian Cancer for 9 years. Two days later I went for a CAT scan thinking something was wrong in my abdomen. That’s when they found the lump in my left breast and something “suspicious” in my right. They called with the results before I had pulled into the driveway at home.Whizzco