"It Leaves You So Flattened": Dame Maggie Smith Spoke Openly About Her Grueling Fight Against Breast Cancer

Date August 7, 2018

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 12.4 percent of women will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives. Although this figure is alarming, the good news is that survival rates for this type of cancer are also one of the highest. One of the many brave survivors of the disease is Dame Maggie Smith, whom most of us know best as Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter saga.


READ ALSO: Dame Margaret Smith: 65 Years Of Acting Experience And Recognition Of The Success

Maggie Smith’s brave fight against breast cancer

As anyone whose life has been affected by cancer knows, the treatment can be exhausting. Many cancer patients describe it as “worse than the cancer itself”. Dame Maggie was diagnosed at age 73, more than a decade ago. She underwent chemo and radiation therapy during the filming of Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince.


The actress didn’t talk much about it, but when she did, she never sugarcoated it. When asked about her plans to return to the stage by The Times, she said:

It leaves you so flattened. I’m not sure I could go back to theatre work, although film work is more tiring. I’m frightened to work in theatre now. I feel very uncertain. I haven’t done it for a while.


The actress admitted the disease and the grueling treatment can really slow you down, especially if you’re diagnosed at such an age. In the same interview with The Times, she said:

I think it’s the age I was when it happened. It knocks you sideways. It takes you longer to recover, you are not so resilient. I am fearful of the amount of energy one needs to be in a film or a play.

Dame Maggie was indeed too tired for theater roles. She hasn’t returned to theater since playing in The Lady From Dubuque in 2007. However, the actress continued playing in movies, which she still does to this day.


READ ALSO: Female Celebrities Who Battled And Survived Breast Cancer

A few breast cancer facts: risk factors and symptoms to watch out for

Here’s one of the reasons why breast cancer is often found early: the breast is a body part which you can palpate and actually feel the tumor. That’s one symptom most women know about: a lump in the breast. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • a lump or swelling in the armpit;
  • pain or tenderness in the breast, unrelated to your menstrual cycle;
  • a flattening or a dimple on the breast;
  • skin changes (such as redness) affecting the breast;
  • nipple changes, such as retraction, itching, or ulceration;
  • nipple discharge, which is usually bloody or clear.

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Any woman can develop breast cancer, but some are more likely to be affected by the disease than others. Factors that may increase your risk include the following:

  • a family history of breast cancer;
  • radiation exposure;
  • being obese;
  • having started to menstruate at a younger age;
  • having entered menopause at an older age;
  • being on hormone therapy;
  • drinking alcohol.

Check your breasts for any unusual changes regularly, and tell your doctor if you see or feel anything suspicious. Also, don’t skip your regular mammograms (and other imaging tests, if they are indicated).

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Breast cancer is highly treatable if it's diagnosed early, so it’s best to stay vigilant.

READ ALSO: Woman Noticed A Weird Symptom Of Breast Cancer And Started An Awareness Campaign To Warn Others

This article is solely for informational purposes. Before using any of the information provided above, consult a certified specialist. Use of the information outlined above can be harmful to health. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm or other consequences that may result from the use of the information provided above.

Breast Cancer