After Years Of Silence Kathy Bates Talks About Dark Battle
Marilyn Caylor 1/17/2019
Lightning never strikes twice, except when you're Oscar winner Kathy Bates. But, in this darker version of Hollywood bliss, it wasn't another Academy Award that struck her like a lightning bolt. An unexpected script edit in the middle of her own life's story meant that Kathy had to bunker down and learn how to play a role she was totally unprepared for.
After years of keeping silent, the star of American Horror Story is finally opening up and spilling the beans about how being unlucky in life doesn't mean your world has to come crashing down. On the other side of a menacing disease that struck her not once but twice, she discovered a better version of herself that embodies both hope and perseverance. Even though she hasn't won all of her battles, her story of resilience has become an inspiration to others.
In 2003 when Kathy was 55, she was diagnosed with a stage 1 ovarian tumor. Even after undergoing surgery and nine months of grueling chemotherapy to treat it, she kept her ordeal hidden from the public. She told PEOPLE:
"I didn't tell anybody. I continued to work right after the operation, doing Little Black Book with Brittany Murphy. My agent at the time was very old-school and didn't want me to be the poster child for ovarian cancer. I didn't want anyone to know, but it really took a lot out of me."
Yet, even in her silence the Golden Globe winner remained strong and persevered. She came out the other end alive, which is all that really mattered. But then in 2012, the Memphis native was struck with disheartening news for a second time.
After experiencing extreme exhaustion, the star of films such as Misery an Titanic went back to her doctor for an MRI. She was diagnosed with a breast tumor, and due to a family history with the disease, Kathy decided to have a double mastectomy.
Although she tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation, which increases a woman's risk of the illness afflicting the breast and ovaries, Kathy noted that it wasn't a "get out of jail free card." Which was obvious, considering that she ended up with both diseases. However, Kathy wasn't going to let herself be jailed by forces that were outside of her control. Instead of stewing over life's sour green tomatoes, she dished up a fabulous plate of Fried Green Tomatoes instead!
Kathy is now totally cancer-free, which is a huge win for her. But, now she's dealing with one of the biggest challenges in her life. She had her lymph nodes removed during her previous treatments, and the extreme pain and swelling that comes with her lymphedema has no cure.
"It's a souvenir you definitely don't want. I really felt that life was over for me. I probably wouldn't work again, and I was angry for a long time."
Thankfully, the actress could see that a greater good could come out of her personal experiences. Kathy has transformed that anger and frustration into helping raise awareness about lymphedema. She is now the National Spokesperson for Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), and has even lost 60 pounds to help manage the pain.
But, her final advice to women? Stop taking selfies and worrying about what you look like. It's better to keep your health in good working order.
Kathy talks to Dr. Phil about her battles and triumphs with her health.