ByEmily Browne, writer at
Twitter: @emrbrowne
Emily Browne

Sometimes it's easy to forget that famous celebs, sporting heroes, and award-winning actors are simply mere mortals, going through life's traumas, heartbreaks, and illness's just as we do — but having to do it all on the public stage. In spite of this, some figures behind the scenes go to great lengths to make sure their clients aren't seen as mere mortals. These misguided efforts were the subject of a recent interview with Oscar nominee and American Horror Story star Kathy Bates, who was told to not disclose her battle with cancer for fear of damaging her career.

, who survived both ovarian cancer in 2003 and stage II breast cancer in 2012, opened up to WebMD about how her manager — and even doctor — told her stigmatized illness like this; because reputation clearly matters more than health.

In a 2016 interview with Future of Personal Health, Bates said that her manager did not want her to become a "poster child" for cancer, and that she felt pressure to stay silent on the issue as she was told it would ruin her career. In an uplifting interview with WebMD, Bates said she felt inspired by fellow survivor Melissa Etheridge to finally "come out" about her struggles with cancer:

"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!’"

Kathy Bates in 'Misery' [Credit:
Kathy Bates in 'Misery' [Credit:

Bates has since had a double mastectomy to remove 19 lymph nodes, and now wears prosthetic breasts if a role requires it. She has now done a complete 180 on the issue, defying her manager and using her publicity to spread awareness of the disease, as well as becoming a spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN).

She says she learned a valuable lesson from her past experience with the culture of silence surrounding cancer treatment, and plans on using her new-found confidence to live her life to the fullest. She tells WebMD a story about how a little bird crashed on her porch and looked as though it was about to die. After giving it some water, the bird got up and flew away like nothing had happened:

“My niece said, ‘Are you getting the message yet?’ I asked what message she meant. She said, ‘Life goes on. You’ve been given another chance.’ That was a very powerful lesson.”

It's so beautiful to see Kathy Bates own such an important part of her story, one that she was told to keep hidden for so long. Her decision to come out clearly hasn't had any detrimental effect on her career — seven seasons on speaks for itself. It is her hope that she can inspire other well-known individuals to speak out about their struggles with cancer, and hopefully inspire millions of women to get checked and stay healthy.

Do you think it's important for celebrities advocate for the struggles they've gone through? Let us know in the comments!


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