October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it serves as a necessary reminder for everyone to advocate for their health. The reality is that anyone could be diagnosed, including our favorite Black celebrities. Check out a gallery of famous Black celebrities who were diagnosed with breast cancer throughout the years inside.
The statistics for Black people diagnosed with breast cancer are mind-blowing. Black women have a 42 percent higher death rate from breast cancer than White women. Young Black women are twice as likely to die of breast cancer than young White women. Black women are afflicted by more aggressive cancers. Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other cancer. Though it is a more rare occurrence, men are also at risk of being diagnosed with the disease.
While these statistics are terrifying, with more awareness, Black people can take control of their health by carrying out preventative measures to avoid the risk of being diagnosed.
Many of the celebrities listed below have been vocal about their experience with breast cancer and encourage others to get routine mammograms and checkups with their physicians.
Check out a gallery of Black celebrities who were diagnosed with breast cancer over the years:
1. Robin RobertsSource:Robin Roberts
“Good Morning America” media personality, Robin Roberts, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 46.
“I found my lump in a self-exam!” she told Prevention. “Because I was familiar with my body and the lumps, I knew this one felt different. It was in a different place on my breast, and it was hard. If I hadn’t been doing self-exams, I wouldn’t have known that.”
Although Roberts made a full recovery after receiving lumpectomy and chemotherapy, the anchor has since been diagnosed with a rare condition: myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which has been speculated to be a result of the radiation from her cancer treatment.
Despite the speculation, the journalist has urged women not to disregard radiation as a treatment.
2. Matthew KnowlesSource:Getty
A few years ago, Knowles revealed during an interview with “Good Morning America” that he’d been diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer.
The 67-year-old former manager and father of stars Beyoncé and Solange said that he knew something was wrong after continuously finding tiny blood specs on his clothing, particularly t-shirts. Doctors later revealed he had a BRCA2 gene mutation, which increases certain cancer risks.
“Thank God he [discovered] it very early on, and he is going to be fine,” Tina Lawson said to Entertainment Tonight about her ex-husband. “I’m [calling] it.”
Since the diagnosis, Mathew has had one breast removed and plans on having the other removed this year.
3. Ananda LewisSource:Ananda Lewis
Former TV host, Ananda Lewis opened up about her battle with the disease for two years. She hopes that her story will serve as a cautionary tale for all women, urging them to get routine checkups.
“For a really long time, I have refused mammograms, and that was a mistake,” the 47-year-old Los Angeles native confessed. “I watched my mom get mammograms for almost 30 years almost, and at the end of that, she had breast cancer, and I said, ‘Huh. Radiation exposure for years equals breast cancer. Yeah, I’m going to pass. Thanks anyway.’”
Lewis stands by her beliefs that too much radiation can cause cancer but said she wants women to understand that mammograms are still one of the most powerful tools they can have in early detection.
4. Richard RoundtreeSource:Getty
Actor Richard Roundtree realized he was among the small percentage of men diagnosed with a male form of breast cancer back in 1993, after finding a lump while filming a movie in Costa Rica.
He kept virtually quiet about his diagnosis for five years. He decided to go public as a survivor at a celebrity golf tournament to raise money for a mobile breast cancer diagnostic unit.
“I just got up and told everybody that I was a breast cancer survivor,” he shared according to BlackDoctors.org. “The room was totally silent. I think it dawned on people that men can be affected by this, too.”
Today, he continues to serve as an advocate for male breast cancer awareness.
5. Wanda SykesSource:Netflix
Comedian Wanda Sykes underwent breast-reduction surgery back in 2011, which revealed that she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), best known as stage 0 breast cancer.
“I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it’s scary,” she announced on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast […] I was very, very lucky.”
Due to her family’s history with breast cancer, Wanda deemed it best to undergo a double mastectomy.
6. Vanessa Bell CallowaySource:Vanessa Bell Calloway
Actress and producer Vanessa Bell Calloway was diagnosed at age 52 years old with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), also known as stage 0 breast cancer.
She opened up about her experience with the disease with Ebony magazine in a personal essay.Vanessa shared that surviving breast cancer changed her perspective on life.
“I didn’t want to miss life. I decided cancer was not going to ruin me […] Anytime you go through anything so emotional, you learn a lot. I’m very grateful and blessed. I love my birthdays even more,” she wrote in her Breast Cancer Survival Story.
After undergoing a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, and breast reconstruction, she’s been living her best life as a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
“I forget I even had cancer sometimes, because I’m so entrenched in the goodness of life. It’s a gift,” she added.
7. Calypso RoseSource:Calypso Rose
In 1996, legendary musician and songwriter, Calypso Rose, battled and beat breast cancer. The 83 year old entertainer known as the “Mother Of Calypso,” has since continued to bless the world with her talents.
A few years back, the Trinidadian trailblazer made herstory as the oldest artist to perform at Coachella ’19, at the age of 78. She was also the first calypso performer to play a full set at the festival.
8. Hoda KotbSource:Getty
Hoda Kotb uses her platform on the “Today” show to bring awareness around breast cancer. She often encourages other breast cancer survivors with a message of hope and empowerment.
Kotb was diagnosed in 2007 after her gynecologist discovered lumps in her breast during a routine exam. The beloved journalist was 43 years old at the time and chose to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
“When it was over, I learned a couple of things. You realize your life is to be valued and not wasted,” Hoda shared in a 2009 Survivors Say. “I also walked away with four wonderful words: ‘You can’t scare me.’ […] No matter what happens in life, if you survive breast cancer, you get that.”