Fashion Designer Betsey Johnson Beat Breast Cancer 18 Years Ago. She Learned She Had The Disease In A Very Unusual Way

Date September 4, 2018

Betsey Johnson is one of the most eccentric New York fashion designers. She has been on the fashion scene since 1960s and enjoyed the company of Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, and the likes. We also know Johnson as a breast cancer survivor, and the story of her diagnosis, treatment, and decision to open up about it is far from typical.

betsey johnsongettyimages

READ ALSO: Jill Eikenberry's Breast Cancer: How She Bravely Fought The Disease Two Times And What Helped Her Pull Through

Betsey Johnson’s private fight

Actually, the story that led to Johnson’s diagnosis is kind of funny. In 1999, one of her breast implants deflated, and she decided to have both of them taken out. After the surgery, she felt a grape-sized lump in her breast and went to get it checked.

That decision saved Johnson’s life. An imaging tests showed something wasn’t quite right. In an interview with Bustle, the famed designer recalled:

When you go get a mammogram or sonogram and they don't let you go home, you know you're in trouble. That’s what happened.

betsey johnsongettyimages

Fortunately, the cancer was found early. Johnson had a lumpectomy, followed by 30 days of radiation. She was diagnosed in late December 1999 and finished her radiation in March 2000.

At first, Johnson’s wasn’t too eager to go public about her breast cancer. In an interview with New York Post, she said she didn’t want “100 people every 10 minutes asking me how I feel.”

She added:

And I didn’t want to think about it every day.

betsey johnsongettyimages

READ ALSO: Shirley Temple's Breast Cancer Battle: How She Overcame The Disease And Became A Pioneering Advocate

Johnson didn’t want to be pitied and she didn’t want people to think her cancer was a death sentence. In the interview with Bustle, she said:

My biggest fear was that people were gonna think I was going to die. That I wasn't going to pay my bills. That I'm not going to design. That I’m not going to feel good. That it was over.

After Johnson’s doctors gave her the all-clear, she decided it was the time to open up. She revealed she had breast cancer at an event for General Motors’ Concept: Cure, New York Post reported. Johnson told the magazine at the time:

I just hope all my customers and girls will get earlier mammograms and checkups. I feel it’s time to give back, if there’s anything I can give.

betsey johnsongettyimages

A word on breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop the disease at some point in their lives. According to the estimates provided by the National Cancer Institute, 266,120 women will be diagnosed with the disease in 2018 and 40,920 will die from it.

otnaydur /

Although breast cancer survival rates have been on the rise, no woman is safe from this disease. The most powerful tool against breast cancer we have at this moment is early detection.

GagliardiImages /

To find breast cancer early if it develops, it’s recommended to self-check your breasts every month. Women who are at an average risk should start getting mammograms at age 40, but some women whose risk is higher should start getting them earlier. Also, your doctor may recommend additional imaging tests, such as a sonogram or MRI.

SimpleFoto /

Betsey Johnson is one of the many celebrity women who are trying to get this very simple message across: don’t skip your check-ups and examine your breasts regularly.

This woman knows what she’s talking about!

READ ALSO: Christina Applegate Beat Breast Cancer After Catching It Early, But Her Health Struggles Didn't End There

Design Fashion Breast Cancer