Kathy Bates Survived Both Ovarian Cancer And Breast Cancer, But Now She Has To Deal With A Serious Complication Her Treatment Caused

Date August 8, 2018 16:33

Kathy Bates, a brave survivor of both ovarian cancer and breast cancer

When the award-winning actress Kathy Bates was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back in 2003, she kept quiet about it. Back then, it was not common for celebrities to go public with their health problems. Only people close to Bates knew what she was going through.


READ ALSO: Women Share Their 6 Subtle Symptoms Of Deadly Ovarian Cancer To Detect The Disease Early On

Almost a decade later, in 2012, the actress found out she had cancer again. This time, it was found in her breast. And this time, Bates decided to speak openly about her struggle.

In an interview with Everyday Health, Kathy Bates opened up about her diagnosis and treatment. Her aunt and niece both had breast cancer, so finding out she also had the disease wasn’t much of a surprise for her. Knowing about the faulty genes, Bates acted decisively. She was diagnosed when the cancer had already progressed to stage II, and she opted for double mastectomy. The nearby lymph nodes were also removed.


When asked by Everyday Health if her revelations helped her fellow breast cancer patients, Bates said:

Not really. Although on a recent plane trip, the woman in front of me had on a lymphedema sleeve with a gauntlet [compression sleeves and glove designed to reduce fluid retention], and I had on mine.

I said, ‘Oh, we’re sisters.’

She said, ‘Yes, nine years,’ [and] we talked.

I really do feel a kinship – like I am a sister with all the women who have battled breast cancer.


READ ALSO: Female Celebrities Who Battled And Survived Breast Cancer

Kathy Bates' struggle with lymphedema

As the actress mentioned in the interview, her breast cancer treatment left her struggling with its lasting complication. 19 of her lymph nodes were removed, and she developed a condition called lymphedema.

Lymphedema is common in people who had one or more of their lymph nodes taken out. The lymph nodes help excess fluid drain properly, so when they are removed, fluid builds up in the affected body part.


Bates developed a serious swelling in her arms. To keep the condition under control, she wears compression sleeves. In an interview with WebMD, the actress revealed how it limits her:

I had to have my arms put into these pneumatic sleeves that feel like a boa constrictor. One arm at a time, two times a week. Now I've lost quite a bit of weight, and that has helped considerably, but I still have to be careful. I can't have a lot of salt or alcohol, I have to stay out of the heat, and I'm not supposed to pick up heavy things.


Before she learned firsthand what lymphedema is, the actress knew very little about it, just like many other people whose life haven’t been affected by the condition.


Bates wants to change that. She was surprised to learn that almost 10 million Americans are living with lymphedema. She became active in raising awareness about the condition, and she became involved with Lymphatic Education & Research Network in order to help others who are struggling with it. She told Lee Cowan of CBS’ Sunday Morning:

I feel I have to do something about it. If I can use my celebrity for something real, then that's what I want to do.


Although living with lymphedema comes with certain limitations, the actress continues with her acting career and work to help others. Way to go, Kathy!

READ ALSO: When Hoda Kotb Was Battling Breast Cancer, She Had A Chance Encounter That Changed Her Whole Perspective

Kathy Bates Breast Cancer