Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Aretha Franklin — Pancreatic Cancer (died)

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was a rare talent. She died in 2018 of this rare form of cancer. The pancreas helps us digest food and control blood sugars, so this cancer can make it hard for us to process fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It can also cause diabetes. Red meat, alcohol, saturated fatty acids and fructose additives may increase risk of contracting the disease.

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Ben Stiller — Prostate Cancer (survived)

"Cancer changed my life" is a common tale. Homeland star Mandy Patinkin said it "woke me up." Movie star, Ben Stiller, wrote an essay to encourage men to get tested in their 40s — ten years earlier than often recommended — and regularly check their PSA baseline for their level of risk. Also, he warned, don't Google "people who died of prostate cancer" right after being diagnosed. Obviously.

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Dana Reeve — Lung Cancer (died)

Dana Reeve was a non-smoker, and yet she died young from lung cancer. Reeve was an actress and activist for disability causes. She was married to actor Christopher Reeve. Lung cancer is often overlooked by women (and men). There's more awareness about breast and prostate cancer. But it's one of the biggest killers and you don't have to be a smoker. Ask your doctor about symptoms and get checked.

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Koyo Bala — Colorectal Cancer (died)

South Africa's Koyo Bala (L) was an openly-gay, HIV-positive actor, activist and singer. Bala rose to fame with the pop group 3Sum in the early 2000s. He had already survived tuberculosis and anal cancer before doctors diagnosed a new bowel and rectum cancer. It spread to his bladder and eventual led to his death in 2016. Often stamped a "socialite," Bala is seen as an inspirational icon.

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Adam "MCA" Yauch — Neck Cancer (died)

Adam Yauch was a pioneering hip hop artist with the Beastie Boys. He died after a three-year battle with cancer in the Parotid gland, in his neck. A practicing Tibetan Buddhist, Yauch took cancer as it came. To begin with, he said the cancer was "very treatable" and only "a bit of a setback"... "a pain in the **s." But in the end, it was a whole lot more than that.

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Sheryl Crow — Breast Cancer (survived)

Tumors can be malign and benign, but neither is nice. American country singer Sheryl Crow has had both. In her 40s, Crow had surgery – a lumpectomy – for ductal carcinoma in situ, a cancer in her left breast, and a needle biopsy on the right. She says it forced her to re-evaluate her life and slow down. In her 50s, she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, but said she didn't want it removed.

Celebrities and the 'Big C'

Eddie Van Halen — Tongue Cancer (survived)

Rockstars are known for their crazy antics, but "guitar picks caused my tongue cancer" has got to be one of the weirdest ideas ever. But that's exactly what guitar star Eddie Van Halen told the NME magazine. He used to hold metal picks in his mouth and came up with the theory himself. "I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs… But my lungs are totally clear," he said. He lost a third of his tongue.

Actors and musicians lead charmed lives, don't they? But they are human like the rest of us and can be struck by very ordinary things, like cancer, an indiscriminate disease. Celebrities get it — and survive it — too.