Actress Kathy Bates has been in the public eye for many years.
But the Academy Award-winning Harry’s Law actress is now admitting something she kept very private. She is an ovarian cancer survivor!
In an episode which airs today, Bates told Anderson Cooper that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, but was advised to keep the information secret. She was about to start filming the 2004 movie, Little Black Book, which also starred Brittany Murphy.
… my doctors at the time, they had to get insurance approval and all of that so, you know, I was very quiet about it. And I had to go back to work right away.
And Bates felt it was something she had to deal with on her own:
I don’t know how to explain it. Nobody else really knows what you’re going through except another cancer patient. Even though your family is supportive and surrounds you, I just got to a point where I would go to chemo by myself and just really go through it on my own. I guess it’s something that I felt I had to face on my own.
In 2008, Bates did describe how she was diagnosed in a video for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. While traveling in Europe, she felt bloated and threw up a few times. Although she originally chalked it up to the travel, she listened to her body, and it told her something was wrong. She went to her gynecologist as soon as she got home and was diagnosed as having a mass in her right ovary on an ultrasound test. She was treated with surgery and chemotherapy.
Bates now says that if she would be much more open if she ever had cancer again, and admires those who have publicly battled the disease.
Ovarian cancer is a cancer which starts in the cells of the ovaries. There are three main types of ovarian cancer, based on the kind of ovarian cell in which the tumor begins:
Although it accounts for only 3 percent of all cancers in women in the US, it comes in fifth as a cause of cancer-related death among women.
It has the highest mortality of all cancers of the female reproductive system. This reflects, in part, a lack of early symptoms and effective ovarian cancer screening tests. Because of this, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary.
White women have higher incidence and mortality rates than women of other racial and ethnic groups.
Early ovarian cancer may not cause obvious symptoms. But, as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
The prognosis and treatment of ovarian cancer, like all other cancers, depends on the stage of the cancer at the time it is diagnosed. Tumors found early before they have spread have the best prognoses. Treatment typically includes surgery to remove the tumors and then chemotherapy to eliminate any microscopic tumor cells to prevent a recurrence.
For more information, click here for the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.
Of course, everyone has the right to privacy in regards to their medical history, but do you think Kathy Bates was right to hide her illness at the time?
Or could she have increased awareness about a particularly difficult medical problem?
In any case, she is doing just that now, and for that I say “thank you.”