(Reuters) - Breast cancer does not discriminate. It can hit anyone, no matter how famous, glamorous or rich.
Here are six well-known women who have had breast cancer and actively campaign to raise awareness:
First Lady Betty Ford, the wife of U.S. President Gerald Ford, was one of the first high-profile American women to discuss her mastectomy publicly. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974 at the age of 56, just weeks after her husband’s inauguration. She is now 89.
“Maybe if I as First Lady could talk about it candidly and without embarrassment, many other people would be able to as well,” she is quoted as saying on The White House Web site www.whitehouse.gov
Grammy-winning rock star Sheryl Crow, 45, was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in February 2006 after a routine mammogram and underwent radiation. She campaigns for women aged over 35 to have annual mammograms.
“I can safely say my life has changed in every way. I feel keenly aware of how precious and fleeting life is and I hope I will never forget what the experience has taught me ... who I am, who I want to be, who I can never be again,” she wrote on her Web site www.sherylcrow.com.
Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, 39, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2005 and went through surgery and hair-losing chemotherapy. She wrote a book during her treatment about how Kylie becomes a showgirl with the help of a dedicated group of friends, featuring artwork inspired by drawings sent by fans. Her “Showgirl Homecoming Tour” last year represented her comeback from cancer.
“I‘m back working and being creative and enjoying all of that. But something in the way I do these things has changed. Friends say I seem more present, more ‘here’. I feel more inspired than ever,” she told Elle magazine.
British actress Lynn Redgrave, 64, announced in 2002 that she had breast cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. With her daughter Annabel Clark, then a photography student, she recorded the experience through photographs and journal entries in a book “Journal: A Mother and Daughter’s Recovery from Breast Cancer.”
“The whole cancer experience has in fact helped my work. My attitude. My concentration. My nerves ... Compared to what I have gone through, what is an opening night? A time to rejoice! It has set me free,” she wrote on her Web site www.redgrave.com
Australian singer Olivia Newton-John, 58, was diagnosed in 1992 and underwent a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy. Her 2005 album, “Stronger than Before” promoted breast cancer awareness. She also introduced the “Olivia Breast Self-Exam Kit” and is helping to build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre in her native Melbourne, Australia.
“Going through breast cancer makes you really investigate what you believe in and what makes you comfortable. So I meditate and I pray and I chant,” she told HELLO magazine.
Elizabeth Edwards, 58, the wife of U.S. Senator John Edwards, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2004. She released a book, “Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers,” about the death of her 16-year-old son in a car crash in 1996 and her battle with cancer. In March, shortly after John Edwards declared himself a 2008 Democratic Party presidential contender, she announced that her cancer had returned. It is not curable but is treatable.
“I don’t expect my life to be significantly different,” she told reporters. “You can see I don’t look sickly, I don’t feel sickly, I‘m as ready as any person can be for that.”