Breast cancer is one of the most dreaded, frequent, and frightening diagnoses a woman can face, yet every day women everywhere, of all ages and walks of life, do.
As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, we honor the memories of those who have lost their lives to the deadly disease but also celebrate the lives of survivors.
While there's still much work to be done in finding a cure and preventing it, the survivors provide inspiration and hope for those who follow in their foreboding footsteps.
Here are 10 well-known women who have battled breast cancer and kicked its butt.
1. Sheryl Crow fought her battle in 2006. She recently opened the Sheryl Crow Imaging Center, a state-of-the-art facility for the detection of breast cancer in Los Angeles, to help other women do the same. Today, she is cancer-free, has a new album out, and is the proud mother of two young boys.
2. Edie Falco of The Sopranos fame announced her diagnosis in 2003, after having received treatment. She credits her sobriety and the 12-step philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous for helping her survive.
3. Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and memorably performed bald (due to treatments) at the 2005 Grammy Awards. Her song "I Run for Life" describes her battle and inspires listeners everywhere.
4. Betsey Johnson When the quirky designer was first diagnosed in 2002, she kept the disease a secret. Since then she has become a proud public advocate.
5. Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City fame quietly fought the disease in 2006. Her mother is also a survivor.
6. Kylie Minogue was diagnosed in 2005 and is still taking medication as a result, but the pop singer is looking optimistically ahead at getting her five-year all-clear soon.
7. Hoda Kotb of the Today show underwent a mastectomy in 2007 after her diagnosis and has been very open about sharing her experiences along the way. "Cancer survivors are blessed with two lives," she wrote in 2008. "There is your life before cancer, and your life after. I am here to tell you your second life is going to be so much better than the first."
8. Olivia Newton John received her diagnosis in 1992 and has been fighting against the disease ever since for women around the world. She found the lump while doing a self-exam and is a strong advocate of the practice.
9. Christina Applegate is one of the most recent celebrities in the spotlight for battling breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy in 2008, and today is a glowing, pregnant, picture of health.
10. Martina Navratilova Diagnosed earlier this year, the tennis superstar continued to play throughout the course of her treatments. She says cancer was the toughest opponent she's ever faced.
Which breast cancer survivors have inspired you the most?
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