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Ben Stiller recently revealed that in 2014 he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. Luckily, the actor was given the all clear after having his prostrate removed, but reading about his ordeal scared me. 2016 has been such an awful year in celeb land, with so many lives lost. I imagine a world without Stiller and it makes me feel emotional — he is one of the actors whose movies I've grown up with. I am proud of him for speaking out about his experience with cancer, because it spreads awareness and helps others recognize the symptoms and do something about it.

Stiller, who was diagnosed with "immediately aggressive" prostrate cancer at age 48, has urged men to talk to their doctors about being tested. It is so important to have influential figures speak openly about the disease, because many will listen, and therefore lives will be saved. Here are some celebrities who have already bridged that gap.

1. Robert De Niro

De Niro was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in 2003. It was caught early due to his insistence on having regular health checkups, and he underwent surgery to remove the tumor that same year. At the time, his publicist Stan Rosenfield said in a statement:

"Doctors say the condition was detected at an early stage because of regular checkups. Because of the early detection and his excellent physical condition, doctors project a full recovery."

2. Angelina Jolie

With a family history of cancer, Angelina Jolie submitted to genetic testing to determined if she had the same BRCA mutations. The actress then had a preventative double mastectomy in 2013, followed by the removal of her ovaries in 2015. When asked about her choice of cancer treatment, Jolie responded:

"I had gained information that I wish my mother had have known and I wish she had the option.

“I wish she had the surgery in fact and it might have given her more years with my family and I wanted to just speak with other women and talk about options. That is simply that, it is an option. I don’t encourage every woman to make the decision I made but I think it is really important that we all share anything we learn.”

3. Ian McKellen

McKellen was diagnosed with prostrate cancer 10 years ago, and is examined regularly, insisting that there is "no cause for alarm" and that the cancer is contained. He told the Mirror:

Many, many men die from [prostate cancer] but it's one of the cancers that is totally treatable so I have 'waitful watching.' I am examined regularly and it’s just contained, it’s not spreading. I’ve not had any treatment."

4. Kathy Bates

The actress had a successful battle with ovarian cancer in 2003, and revealed in 2012 that she had undergone a double mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis. That same year, the Oscar winner opened up to People magazine:

"My family call me Kat because I always land on my feet and thankfully this is no exception.

“My doctors have assured me I’m going to be around for a long time. I’m looking forward to getting back to work doing what I love to do.”

5. Mr. T

Back in the '90s, the legendary wrestler-turned-actor was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer, T-cell lymphoma. He shared his struggles with Coping With Cancer magazine:

“I pity the fool who just gives up. We all gonna die eventually from something or other, but don’t be a wimp. Put up a good fight. Don't sit around waiting on death. We can be tough. We can be determined. Go out and have some fun and make death find you! We can be living with cancer, not dying from it. We can be cancer survivors.

6. Hugh Jackman

Growing up under the harsh Australian sun, Hugh Jackman knows only too well the dangers of a depleted ozone layer, having had his fifth cancer removed last February. He has been outspoken about the use of sunscreen, relaying via Instagram the warning from his wife Deborra-Lee Furness that may have saved his life:

Deb said to get the mark on my nose checked. Boy, was she right! I had a basil cell carcinoma. Please don't be foolish like me. Get yourself checked. And USE sunscreen!!!

7. Wanda Sykes

Following a cosmetic breast reduction, the actress and comedienne was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2011. She then opted to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, and opened up about the procedure to Ellen DeGeneres:

"I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer. So I was very lucky.

"I had both breasts removed ... because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer."

8. Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, and had a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and a breast reconstruction. She set up the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre to support others on their cancer journey. She writes on the organization's website:

I am very grateful that after a long journey I am still well and cancer-free.

The whole experience has given me much understanding and compassion, so much so that I wanted to help others going through the same journey.

With more and more people affected by cancer every day, I believe we are in a world desperate for healing, and I’m committed to doing whatever I can to help.

I also believe that when you go through something difficult, even something as dramatic as cancer, that something positive will come of it.

And that’s exactly what the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre) is - a positive healing Centre to support people on their cancer journey.

Cancer is a tragic disease that affects millions each year. It would be a dream come true to one day finally find a cure. But in the meantime, we must help others to cope with cancer and encourage early diagnosis. It is vital that we support people suffering with this disease, because it is such a difficult and emotional journey that they and their families must face. If people are aware of the warning signs and encouraged to visit their doctor, then so many lives could be spared.


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