Inspirational Quotes from Celebrity Cancer Survivors

Cancer does not discriminate. It can hit anyone, anytime during career or life. We hear about the celebrities who are diagnosed with cancer in magazines. More often news articles are about famous people who have died from cancer. But there have been many stars who have survived cancer, thrive and live quality lives after cancer treatments are finished. Here are some inspirational quotes from celebrity cancer survivors.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Jane Fonda

Actress and model Jane Fonda has survived both breast (2016) and skin (2018) cancer. Jane Fonda was most famous for her exercise videos, the Jane Fonda’s Workout Collection . Cardio exercise is a fantastic way to keep fit and fight cancer.

A couple years ago I got breast cancer, and that was a good test, because I always said I’m not afraid of dying. And I wasn’t. I mean, I felt, God, I’ve just joined a family of millions of women who have gone through this. And how interesting. What a journey this is going to be.”

Look what scares you in the face and try to understand it.

If you allow yourself, you can become stronger in the very places that you’ve been broken.

We’re not meant to be perfect. It took me a long time to learn that.”

2. Ben Stiller

Famed actor and comedian Ben Stiller has survived prostate cancer (2014). He is an avid promoter of testing and early detection, as he says it saved his life. You can read more about early detection of prostate cancer in his medium article.

“I was able to wrap my head around the fact that I was incredibly fortunate. Fortunate because my cancer was detected early enough to treat.”

But in this imperfect world, I believe the best way to determine a course of action for the most treatable, yet deadly cancer, is to detect it early.

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Just be who you are. That’s what’s really cool.”

Life is about courage and going into the unknown.”

3. Olivia Newton John

Four-time Grammy award winner, Olivia Newton John is a 3-time survivor of breast cancer (1992, 2013 and 2017). Her most recent bout of the disease saw the cancer spread to her lower back, causing her pain. She openly speaks about her stage 4 metastatic cancer diagnosis.

My cancer scare changed my life. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life.

I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff.

Family, nature and health all go together.

Once you face your fear, nothing is ever as hard as you think.”

Fight each round take it on the chin.  And never never never ever give in.

“We women should remember that we are much more than just breasts.”

I’m an 18-years thriver, I call myself, not a survivor, because I feel like I’m in thriving my life even better than I ever have, and I want to encourage other women that are going through this journey that here I am.”

4. Michael Douglas

Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas has survived oral cancer (2010). His doctors say he made a “complete response” to treatment. However, he is left with some scars from treatment and has some difficulties eating and swallowing.

Cancer didn’t bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet.

Cancer has shown me what family is. It showed me a love that I never knew really existed.

I believe there is a spirit within us, which we nurture based upon our efforts and what we bring to the world. But it doesn’t come from the outside; it comes from the inside.

5. Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate, who played Kelly Bundy on Married with Children, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2007. It was found early and she was able to make a full recovery.

I have talked to women who do yoga, who are vegan, who have never smoked and/or never drank a day in their life, but they have Stage IV breast cancer. So you do what you can to be as healthy as you can if you know you’re high-risk because yes, all those things can factor into that. But sometimes it’s just a fluke.”

When I first came out about my breast cancer, I didn’t want to talk about it, but I had to, because young women were getting it, and people weren’t understanding that.”

For breakfast, I juice a big green juice, and I try to get in as much raw food and protein as I can, obviously plant proteins and legumes, but sometimes it’s late at night, and there’s a frozen pizza in there, and sometimes it’s all you’ve got! You don’t have the energy to chop up a bunch of vegetables.

I used to be a stressed-out person. I’m not anymore. I try to find the silver lining in everything in life.”

I laughed more in the hospital than I ever have in my life, making fun of all the weird things that were happening to me. My friends would walk in with this sad look, and I would throw something at them and say, ‘Come on! This isn’t the end of the world!’” in Women’s Health

I hold onto the fact that I don’t have to wear a bra, which is great” in People Magazine

6. Sheryl Crow

Singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2006. She practices meditation and is a proponent for regular self-care. She openly encourages women to get regular mammograms for early detection.

My lesson was, in my diagnosis and laying on the radiation table every single morning for seven weeks, that nobody can take care of me but me. And I wasn’t doing that … I had to reflect and had to remember who it was I came in as and had to really sort of redefine my life.” On NPR

No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about regrets because there’s nothing I can do.”

People go through challenging moments of losing people and of having their life threatened from illness and real grief. But they get through it. And that’s the testament to the human spirit and it’s -we are fragile, but we also are divine.

More than 10 million Americans are living with cancer, and they demonstrate the ever-increasing possibility of living beyond cancer.”

7. Melissa Etheridge

Musician Melissa Etheridge had breast cancer in 2005 and says it radically changed her life. She encourages others to “make each day count“, whether you have cancer or not.

My life passed over me like a big wave, and after, I was left there standing. This turned out to be a very good thing. I stopped. I looked at my life, I looked at my body and spirit, and I got a new perspective. That’s brought me incredible clarity and a lot of peace.”

Believe in yourself and what you feel. Your power will come from that.”

Once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.”

8. Shannen Doherty

Actress Shannen Doherty had breast cancer in 2015. She underwent chemotherapy, where losing her beautiful long hair was one of the harder parts. She shared this experience on her instagram profile.

I made the decision to shave my head. My friend came over, and she shaved it. We laughed, and we cried. She shaved it in stages, so it was like a pageboy, then punk rock, shaved on the sides. It was a fun experience, considering that I was devastated.”

I know sharing helped me because, when I got back, these beautiful stories from other people, what they were going through … giving me hope and support and love, it really helped.

I think what’s beautiful and hard and interesting about cancer is that it tears you down and builds you, and tears you down and builds you. It remakes you so many different times. The person I thought I was supposed to be or was going to be or who I thought I was six months ago is now somebody completely different.

Ultimately, they’re just breasts right? I mean, I love them, they’re mine, they’re beautiful, but in the grand scheme of things, I would rather be alive and I would rather grow old with my husband.” On Dr. Oz

9. Val Kilmer

Actor Val Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014. He has had a rough recovery, struggling to breathe or eat. Healing from cancer has been a long road for him. Having stayed quiet about his cancer for a long time, he reveals it all in the documentary “Val

There is no normal life, there’s just life. You live it.”

I have behaved bizarrely to some. I deny none of this and have no regrets because I have lost and found parts of myself that I never knew existed, I am blessed.”

Watch VAL on Prime Video

10. Carly Simon

Singer Carly Simon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. She too underwent chemotherapy to treat it. Battling cancer took a huge toll on both her personal life and her music career.

I’ve always thought of myself as being a warrior. When you actually have a battle, it’s better than when you don’t know who to fight.

It sounds weird to say, but it feels like a gift; anything that’s scary like this reminds you how precious life is.”

A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.”

Carly Simmon’s song Scar was about her physical and emotional scars from her battles with cancer. You can listen to her song below. She believes we should wear our scars with pride, as they represent the strength we find to overcome cancer.

11. Hugh Jackman

Actor and producer Hugh Jackman was first diagnosed with skin cancer in 2013. He has had several tumors removed over the years. Promoting early detection, he regularly visits his dermatologist.

The pain lets you know you’re still alive.”

In life you don’t regret the things you do, you regret the things you don’t do.

We can live tough lives, but the human spirit is stronger, seemingly, than anything.”

A couple of notes… please get skin checks often, please don’t think it won’t happen to you and, above all, please wear sunscreen.”

12. Fran Drescher

Actress Fran Drescher, most famous for her role on The Nanny, was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2000. While, of course, she is not glad she had cancer, she says it changed her for the better. She writes about her experience in her book Cancer Schmancer.

Illness is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are, rich or poor, young or old, fat or thin, sick is sick.

I love walking my feet off. Give me a map and a box of Band-Aids and I’m all set!”

My whole life has been about changing negatives into positives. I got famous, then I got cancer, and now I live to talk about it. Sometimes the best gifts come in the ugliest packages.” “And remember, it’s also very funny, because side by side with grief lies joy”

13. Wanda Sykes

Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes had a double mastectomy after finding out she had breast cancer in 2011. She found out when biopsy results from a breast reduction surgery turned up as very early cancer.

When life gives you lemons don’t make lemonade, make pink lemonade. Be unique.”

My scars? I barely see them. I feel whole; Because every day, I get to say, ‘There’s no cancer.’ I’m healthy, and that’s beautiful.” In People

14. Kathy Bates

Actress Kathy Bates had two cancer bouts. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003 and breast cancer in 2012. Due to her concern about the impacted on her career, she kept silent about her 2003 cancer battle. She didn’t stay quiet about her second diagnosis, as she was inspired by Melissa Ethridge singing with a bald head on a concert stage.

I really enjoy every moment of my life now. It’s not that every moment is terrific — we all go through tough times — but I try to be more present and grateful for the good times that I have.

I’ve joined the ranks of women who are going flat. I don’t have breasts—so why do I have to pretend like I do? That stuff isn’t important. I’m just grateful to have been born at a time when the research made it possible for me to survive. I feel so incredibly lucky to be alive.” On WebMD

15. Sharon Osborne

Sharon Osborne, famous for her roles on The Osbournes and The Talk, battled colon cancer in 2002. It was her husband, musician Ozzy Osbourne, who encouraged her to see a doctor when she wasn’t feeling well. Ultimately she underwent surgery to remove part of her bowel, followed by chemotherapy.

To prevent a recurrence of her earlier cancer struggles, she had a double mastectomy when she found out she was also at risk for breast cancer. Today Sharon remains cancer free.

I didn’t even think of my breasts in a nostalgic way, I just wanted to be able to live my life without that fear all the time. It’s not ‘pity me’, it’s a decision I made that’s got rid of this weight that I was carrying around.” In The Guardian

Your gut is always right.”

16. Suzanne Somers

Famous for her role as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, Suzanne Somers found out she had stage 2 breast cancer in 2000. She had the lump removed and underwent chemotherapy. She also battled skin cancer 20 years earlier.

Cancer has chased me most of my life. But cancer has not changed my life since it’s been my life for decades.” In SurvivorNet

I live my life with no expiration date.

Cancer is not for sissies.” on CNN

It’s up to you to make your own decision. This is your life, and this is your body.”

17. Rod Stewart

Musician Rod Stewart has battled cancer twice. In 1999 he had thyroid cancer. In 2017 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which he fought for 3 years before being given the “all clear”. He now encourages all men to have their prostates checked.

You go through life wondering what is it all about but at the end of the day it’s all about family.” In Mirror

“It was early detection that saved my voice – and I imagine, my life.

Like with every form of cancer, early detection is what it is all about. I urge everyone to learn the facts about this condition. It can be prevented with testing, and it can be beaten if caught early!”

18. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Actress and comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus found out she had stage 2 breast cancer in 2017. She had 6 rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Today, she is a thriver and is an example of hope for women around the world.

The best way to make a difference in the world is to start by making a difference in your own life.”

I’m not someone who likes looking back. I look forward. That’s how I operate. We’ll finish an episode, and I am just ready for the next thing. I’m always just moving on, you know?” on InStyle

I’m still working it out, to be honest with you. I’m glad I got through it, but there’s a part of me that’s still a little frightened, you know?” in Fox News

19. Robert De Niro

In 2013, Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro found out he had prostate cancer. His father had died from the disease in 1993. Today Robert De Niro is cancer free and continuing his acting career. He too encourages men to get regular screenings.

Time goes on. So whatever you’re going to do, do it. Do it now. Don’t wait.” in Prostate Cancer News

You don’t need words to express feelings.

I am living. I am breathing right now. This is nice.” On AGT

20. Sofia Vergara

Actress Sofia Vergara survived thyroid cancer. She was diagnosed in 2000 and was treated with radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. And while she is still taking medication to help regulate her metabolism as a result, she is doing very well.

When they tell you that you have cancer, you panic

But I tried not to panic. I decided to take charge and inform myself. Of course, I couldn’t Google thyroid cancer from the comfort of my house back then, so I went to bookstores and found out everything I could about it.”

I am fearless, I don’t complain. Even when horrible things happen to me, I go on

These other articles might interest you . . .

40 Healthy Living Quotes to Inspire You to Live Your Healthiest Life

Healthy Living With Cancer is Possible

Words of Advice For Those Fighting Cancer

Life After Cancer Treatments: A new Normal


Similar Posts


  1. Beautiful, compassionate, and inspiring post. đź’™ In my second most recent post, I critiqued what I call “unmindful motivational quotes” and I can say all of these are definitely the exact opposite of the types of quotes I discussed in my post. These are all truly mindful, genuine, and inspiring quotes.

  2. Wow, these are some powerful quotes. My mother had cancer and beat it when I was a kid and every day I am super grateful for my health and hers. Thanks for sharing these!

  3. Such a thoughtful article! It’s crazy how we go through life not fully appreciating our health, until we’re faced with losing it. The same holds true for everything we take for granted. The gift of desperation ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *