18 Celebrities Affected by Breast Cancer

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October is recognized nationwide as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign dedicated to promoting awareness around the disease for more than 25 years. To kick off this celebration of strength, we highlight some brave celebrities who have been affected by the disease.(Photos from Left: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for David Yurman, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)


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Robin Roberts - The Good Morning America anchor is a breast cancer survivor because of an early detection in 2007. And when she returned to her duties (then as co-host) with a beautiful, close-cropped, silky curled hairdo following cancer treatment, we knew she was a true survivor and never lost her sense of style despite her hardships! As if she wasn't tested enough, Roberts was later diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome.(Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic)


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Wanda Sykes - On an episode of Ellen, the comedienne revealed she’d undergone a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2011. Explaining how a breast reduction saved her life, she said, "It wasn't until after the reduction that, in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast... I was very lucky."(Photo: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)


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Vanessa Bell Calloway  - In 2014 actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, from the original Broadway Dreamgirls and Showtime’s Shameless, opened up about being diagnosed with breast cancer four years prior. Calloway, 55, was “diligent” in getting her pap smears and mammograms and admits that she was “stunned” with her diagnosis.  (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)


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Bershan Shaw - Reality star Bershan Shaw, from the hit show Love in the City, shared her personal story of fighting breast cancer. Shaw, then 33, had been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer and was told she had months to live, but she chose to fight. Thanks to chemotherapy, she has been living cancer free for the past five years.(Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images)


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Zoleka Mandela - Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Zoleka shared in her recent memoir that she had a bilateral mastectomy and underwent chemotherapy in 2013. She hopes that her story will encourage young women about breast health. (Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)


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Roxie Roker - Known for pushing boundaries and breaking barriers on the classic comedy The Jeffersons, Roxie Roker, mother to rocker Lenny Kravitz, died of breast cancer in 1995 at the age of 66.(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)


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Audre Lorde - Famous poet, Black feminist and LGBT advocate Audre Lorde was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Yet, she passed away in 1992 due to complications of liver cancer.(Photo: Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Nina Simone vs. HTC Corporation - The family of Nina Simone is suing HTC Corporation, a Taiwanese smartphone creator, for use of those famed train-sounding piano chords she plays at the beginning of her "Sinnerman." According to the suit, HTC did not get clearance and the estate wants at least $1 million.(Photo: Ian Showell/Getty Images)

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Nina Simone - Known for her raspy voice and bold politics, singer Nina Simone suffered from breast cancer for several years until she died at the age of 70 in 2003. (Photo: Ian Showell/Getty Images)


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Hoda Kotb - NBC anchor Hoda Kotb was diagnosed in 2006 and became a breast cancer survivor. Though she overcame the hurdle of the disease, she cites the real battle in the healing process. "The healing from the surgery was hardest," she said. "They said it was going to feel like you've been hit by a Mack truck. Luckily I've never had to experience that, but I can see where they're coming from."(Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for AHA)

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Diahann Carroll - Groundbreaking actress Diahann Carroll, 75, is a breast cancer survivor. At the age of 63, she was shocked to be diagnosed with the disease so late in life. Currently she is an advocate for breast cancer awareness, encouraging Black women to be diligent about their yearly mammograms.(Photo: Harry Langdon/Getty Images)


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Patti LaBelle - The legendary singer was never diagnosed with breast cancer. However, she lost three sisters to the disease. After a cancer scare of her own in 2005, she was lucky enough to find out it was nothing.(Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty Images)

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Richard Roundtree - Blaxploitation film icon Richard Roundtree discovered he was among the one percent of men diagnosed with a male form of breast cancer in 1993. After remaining silent about his diagnosis for five years, the Being Mary Jane actor decided to go public with his diagnosis at a golf tournament. "I just got up and told everybody... The room was totally silent. I think it dawned on people that men can be affected by this too," he said.(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)


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Minnie Riperton - After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1976, iconic singer Minnie Riperton was given only six months to live. The year before, she’d scored her biggest hit with the song “Lovin' You.” Riperton (also the mother of actress Maya Rudolph) became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. She died from her illness in 1979.(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)


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Naomi Sims - One of first Black supermodels, Naomi Sims, also battled breast cancer. She succumbed to the illness in Newark, N.J., on August 3, 2009, when she was just 61 years old. However, her iconic legacy lives on forever.(Photo: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)


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Lil' Mama - The young rap star lost her mother to breast cancer in 2007. Since then, Lil' Mama’s become an advocate for awareness of the disease, participating on the World Music for the Cure CD compilation and breast cancer tour. This month holds a special place in the femcee's heart but she mentions that it's not easy living without your closest parent: "It's a blessing to have had her in my life for as long as I did. It's really tough to become a teenager without your mom, let alone a woman. It's not easy," she said.(Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)


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Nas - In 2002, Nas’s mother, Ann Jones, died of breast cancer. On his critically acclaimed album God’s Son, she was the inspiration for several songs, including the aptly titled "Warrior's Song," which saw the rapper emotionally explain her passing: "Earlier this year I buried my queen in a gold casket/ Your mother's the closest thing to/ God that you ever have kid I'm askin', what would you do at your own mom's funeral/ Wanna pick her up out of it, this can't be real," he rapped.(Photo: Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)


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Hattie McDaniel - The first Black actress to win an Oscar in 1940 died from breast cancer at the age of 57 on October 26, 1952. She became the first African-American to star in a radio show with the program Beulah, but, although the show was a success, she could not continue after falling too ill from the disease.(Photo: Ben Polin/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

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Ruby Dee - More than three decades ago, late acting legend Ruby Dee discovered she had breast cancer. As a cancer survivor, she worked with various charities to create awareness. Though she passed in June 2014, her legacy of breast cancer awareness continues to live on.(Photo: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)