Cancer is an equal-opportunity disease. It strikes, Olympic athletes, CEOs, celebrities, and people who hold some of the highest positions in government. Happily, many famous cancer victims are also long-time cancer survivors.

One of the most recent celebrities to share his story of survival may not be familiar by name or even by his face. Those of us who grew up in the 1970s know 62-year old Peter Kriss as the founder of the flamboyant rock band KISS. Kriss discovered a lump in his breast in 2007 during a workout and, fortunately, promptly sought medical attention. Although breast cancer in men is rare, it does happen. In 1993, then 51-year old actor Richard Roundtree was also treated for breast cancer. Roundtree has since become a spokesperson for the Komen Foundation.

Many famous women are breast cancer survivors, including two former (still living) first ladies. Chef and author Julia Childs lived a third of her long life following breast cancer. Childs was treated for breast cancer in 1968 and died in 2004 at age 91. Others, like singer Melissa Etheridge and Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz were diagnosed with cancer in their 40s and endured difficult treatments. Etheridge's physician removed her large, stage II cancer during a lumpectomy. However, he also removed all 15 of her lymph nodes. She then underwent five rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, who is also a mother and active Democratic fundraiser, had seven major surgeries, including a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Perhaps the most famous celebrity in cancer survivorship is seven-time Tour de' France winner Lance Armstrong. After a diagnosis of testicular cancer at 25, Armstrong's prognosis was quite grim. By the time he was diagnosed, his cancer spread to his abdomen, lungs, and brain. He had surgery to remove the cancer in his testical and two lesions on his brain, and then underwent four rounds of chemotherapy. Fourteen years later, Lance still compete on the highest level and serves as a spokesperson for cancer awareness.

While the personal cancer stories of famous people are in the public realm, their journeys mirror those of millions of other Americans who also become survivors-in a more private fashion.


"Surviving Breast Cancer: Affliction of the Stars: From Pop Stars to Supreme Court Justices, Celebs Battle Breast Cancer." ABC News. Web.

Paddock, Catharine Ph.D. "Ex Drummer Of Rock Band KISS Speaks In Public About His Breast Cancer." Medical News Today. Web. 22 October 2009.

"12 Cancer Survivors." Parade Magazine. Web.

LiveStrong Foundation. "Lance's story." Web.

No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation. "Famous Survivors: Julia." Web.