Celebrated with an Academy Award, Kathy Bates has shone brightly in her multifaceted career, taking on leading roles, stealing scenes as a supporting actress, and charming audiences with memorable cameos. Renowned for her indomitable role in Titanic and her bone-chilling portrayal of Stephen King’s Annie Wilkes in Misery, Bates has left an indelible mark in nearly 100 films and numerous TV shows.
However, amidst her illustrious career, Bates harbored a deeply personal triumph that remained concealed for nearly two decades. Now, she opens up about her most significant life achievement – surviving two battles with cancer and the challenges that followed – sharing her story with Dr. Phil.
Following triumphs in films such as Fried Green Tomatoes, The Late Shift, Dolores Claiborne, and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Kathy Bates demonstrated her versatility, showcasing her ability to master any role handed to her by Hollywood. However, what she hadn’t anticipated was the unforeseen script and edits that life was about to present to her.
At the age of 55, in 2003, Bates received the unexpected diagnosis of stage one ovarian cancer.
This marked the commencement of a journey that propelled her towards profound self-discovery. However, it was a path she chose to navigate alone and in silence for an extended period. After undergoing surgery to remove the cancerous ovarian tumor, she endured nine months of chemotherapy, with only a select few privy to this information beyond Kathy’s inner circle.
In a 2018 interview with a magazine, she would later reveal her decision, explaining that she simply didn’t want anyone to be aware of her health struggle. Complicating matters, her “old school” agency strongly discouraged her from becoming the public face of ovarian cancer.
In true Kathy fashion, she immediately turned adversity into strength, just like frying up those green tomatoes. Following her surgery, she swiftly returned to work and delivered a remarkable performance in Little Black Book. Unbeknownst to those around her, she was grappling with a significant personal challenge, yet she remained resolute in keeping it under wraps.
Her determination to emerge victorious was unwavering, and she successfully became an ovarian cancer survivor.
Almost a decade later, in 2012, Kathy’s life faced another upheaval as cancer struck once again. Battling extreme exhaustion, she underwent an MRI that revealed a new tumor, this time in her breast. Despite her BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests not indicating a gene mutation associated with elevated risks for both breasts and ovaries, Kathy, influenced by her family’s medical history, opted for a proactive double mastectomy.
As of 2018, Kathy stands as a resilient two-time cancer survivor. However, the aftermath persists, as she candidly shared in a poignant interview with Dr. Phil. A lasting reminder of her battles is a cancer souvenir named lymphedema. In the course of previous cancer treatments, Kathy had her lymph nodes removed. Without these nodes to filter impurities from her body, she grapples with persistent pain and swelling.
Regrettably, lymphedema remains without a cure.
Expressing feelings of anger and a sense that both life and her career were at an end, Kathy shared with Dr. Phil. However, the resilient, brave, and optimistic Kathy Bates didn’t allow that mindset to linger for long. Instead, she rose above it, determined to effectively manage her lingering health challenges and advocate for cancer and lymphedema awareness.
Taking charge of her self-management, she embarked on a journey to shed 60 pounds, aiming to alleviate the pain associated with lymphedema. Kathy actively participated in the Stand Up to Cancer event alongside celebrities like Jennifer Garner and Reese Witherspoon. Additionally, she has taken on the role of National Spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network.
In offering advice to her fellow women, Kathy emphasizes the importance of prioritizing health over appearance, encouraging them to worry less about selfies and aesthetics and focus more on maintaining their well-being. Witness Kathy’s inspiring words in the video below.
Is there someone in your life silently battling cancer or facing it without hope? Perhaps there’s someone who could find inspiration in Kathy’s story and her impactful interview with Dr. Phil on health and survival. Share your thoughts and questions with us, and don’t hesitate to pass along this video to anyone who might benefit from it.