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5 Celebrities Living With Lung Cancer

Written by Suzanne Mooney
Posted on July 1, 2024

A lung cancer diagnosis makes some people feel like they’re all alone, especially if no one they know has had lung cancer. If that applies to you, rest assured you are not alone. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is more common in men and breast cancer is more common in women. However, lung cancer is the second most common cancer overall, behind skin cancer, according to the nonprofit.

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 234,580 people in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2024. Some you might meet through lung cancer support groups, and others you’ll recognize from movies, television shows, concerts, and other creative outlets. Lung cancer can affect anyone.

Get to know five celebrities who are also lung cancer survivors. Read about their stories and how finding the cancer early helped in their treatment. Their experiences show why it’s important to have regular check-ups and to pay attention to symptoms.

CC BY-SA 2.0/Greg2600/Cropped

1. Kate Micucci

Kate Micucci is an actor, comedian, writer, and producer. Many know her as Lucy from the American sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” which aired on CBS from 2007 to 2019. You might also recognize her as Stephanie in “Scrubs,” Shelley in “Raising Hope,” or the voice of several animated Disney characters. Micucci surprised fans in December 2023 when she shared a TikTok video filmed from a hospital bed after undergoing a successful surgery for lung cancer.

“Hey everybody, this is not a TikTok, it’s a SickTok,” Micucci said in the video. “I’m in the hospital, but it’s because I had lung cancer surgery yesterday. They caught it really early.”

One of the messages Micucci has shared since her lung cancer diagnosis at age 43 is that anyone can get lung cancer, including people who have never smoked. “I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life,” Micucci said in the TikTok video. “It was a surprise, but I guess it happens.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who don’t smoke account for 10 percent to 20 percent of lung cancers in the United States. That translates to 20,000 to 40,000 people annually and includes anyone who has smoked 100 cigarettes or less in their lifetime.

Micucci also mentioned the importance of early detection in her video. She said, “The greatest news is, they caught it early, they got it out, I’m all good.”

CC BY-SA 2.0/Greg Hernandez/Cropped

2. Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin is an actor, comedian, and activist. She gained popularity after playing the role of Vicki on “Suddenly Susan,” an American sitcom that aired on NBC from 1996 to 2000. In 2014, Griffin won a Grammy for best comedy album. She also earned two Primetime Emmy Awards for “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” a self-deprecating TV series where she sets out to become an A-list celebrity. In 2021, Griffin was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer at age 60. She shared the news with fans on Twitter and Instagram.

“I’ve got to tell you guys something,” Griffin wrote. “I have cancer. I’m about to go into surgery to have half of my left lung removed. Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked!”

Griffin’s cancer treatment included surgery to remove half of her left lung and chemotherapy. Like Micucci, Griffin emphasizes the fact that she didn’t smoke. In 2023, she said her doctors suspected radon could be to blame for her cancer diagnosis. Radon exposure is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking. Other common lung cancer risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos, and air pollution.

Griffin encourages fans to get annual medical check-ups to increase the odds of early detection.

CC BY-SA 2.0/Raph_PH/Cropped

3. Ronnie Wood

Ronnie Wood is an English rock musician, songwriter, guitarist, author, and radio personality. He is best known for being a member of the legendary rock band The Rolling Stones. With estimated record sales of more than 200 million, The Rolling Stones are one of the best-selling artists of all time. Wood joined the group as a guitarist in 1975. He is a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2017, Wood was diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer. He was 70 years old. After a successful surgery to remove part of his left lung, his doctors found no evidence of disease in his lymph nodes, and he chose not to have chemotherapy. After a few healthy years, Wood received a second lung cancer diagnosis in 2021. This time, it was small cell lung cancer, a fast-growing lung cancer linked to smoking.

Wood smoked heavily for most of his life but quit one week before the birth of his twin daughters in 2016. In an interview with British tabloid newspaper The Sun, Wood estimated that he had smoked 25 to 50 cigarettes a day for close to 50 years. Woods’ first cancer was discovered during a routine medical check-up before he went on tour. Once he realized how lucky he was that his doctor caught it early, he started talking about the importance of early detection.

“People have to get checked,” Wood told The Daily Mail in 2017. “Seriously, [you] have to get checked. I was lucky, but then I’ve always had a very strong guardian angel looking out for me. By rights, I shouldn’t be here.”

CC BY-SA 2.0/Peabody Awards/Cropped

4. Bryant Gumbel

Bryant Gumbel is an American television journalist and sportscaster. He is best known for cohosting the NBC morning television show “Today.” He also hosted “The Early Show” on CBS and “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on HBO. In 2009, Gumbel was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 61 and underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his lung. He didn’t share the news publicly until two months later when he was guest hosting “Live! With Regis & Kelly.”

According to ABC News, Gumbel told viewers that he initially chose to keep his diagnosis private and told very few people. He also didn’t disclose what type of cancer treatment he had other than surgery.

During “Live! With Regis & Kelly,” Gumbel told viewers, “They opened up my chest, they took a malignant tumor, and they took part of my lung and some other goodies. And the pathology on most of the stuff had been benign, but enough aggressive cells had escaped the tumor that it warranted some treatment, and I went through that, and it’s done now.”

5. Gerald McRaney

Gerald McRaney is an American television and film actor. You might know him from “Simon & Simon,” “Major Dad,” “This Is Us,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” and other popular TV series and movies. McRaney was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004. He was 56 years old.

McRaney didn’t have any lung cancer symptoms when he was diagnosed. His doctors detected the cancer during a physical examination after he sustained a knee injury while hunting.

According to McRaney’s spokesperson at the time, Henri Bollinger, McRaney smoked heavily. “I’m sure that he will plan to quit,” Bollinger told the Associated Press after sharing the news that the actor had undergone lung cancer surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Bollinger told Reuters that the cancer was caught at an early stage and no follow-up treatment would be needed.

Following Celebrities With Lung Cancer

Celebrities with lung cancer have to make many of the same decisions as anyone else diagnosed with cancer, they just do it in the public eye. Sometimes, celebrities and influencers share their treatment plans online or on social media. They may do so with the best intentions, but it’s important to remember that most are not oncologists or medical professionals.

If you read about a supplement, alternative therapy, or other celebrity-endorsed cancer treatment option that interests you, discuss it with your health care provider. What works for one person may not work for everyone, and your oncologist is the best person to help you navigate your cancer journey safely and effectively.

Find Others Who Understand

MyLungCancerTeam is the social network for people with lung cancer and their loved ones. On MyLungCancerTeam, nearly 13,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with lung cancer.

Can you relate to these celebrities’ experiences? Do you know of other famous people living with lung cancer? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

References
  1. Key Statistics for Lung Cancer — American Cancer Society
  2. Kate Micucci — IMDb
  3. An Update on What I’ve Been up To — @katiemicucci on TikTok
  4. The Big Bang Theory — IMDb
  5. Lung Cancer Among People Who Never Smoked — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  6. Kathy Griffin — People
  7. Suddenly Susan — IMDb
  8. Kathy Griffin — Grammy Awards
  9. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List — IMDb
  10. I’ve Got To Tell You Guys Something — @kathygriffin on X
  11. I’ve Got To Tell You Guys Something — @kathygriffin on Instagram
  12. Kathy Griffin Shares Behind-the-Scenes Look at Vocal Surgery To Help Regain Her Voice After Cancer — People
  13. Kathy Griffin Suggests Lung Cancer Caused by Radon Exposure — Moffitt Cancer Center
  14. Radon Exposure and Lung Cancer: 11 Things To Know — The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  15. Lung Cancer Facts 2023 — Lung Cancer Research Foundation
  16. Kathy Griffin Reveals Lung Cancer Diagnosis, Will Undergo Surgery: Doctors Are Very Optimistic — People
  17. Ronnie Wood — IMDb
  18. About Ronnie — Ronnie Wood
  19. The Rolling Stones Records Ranked by Album Sales — Far Out Magazine
  20. My Lung Cancer Horror, by Ronnie Wood: Rolling Stone Prepared 'To Say Goodbye' to His Family After Devastating Diagnosis — Daily Mail
  21. Ronnie Wood Rejected Chemotherapy for Lung Cancer: This Hair Wasn’t Going Anywhere' — The Guardian
  22. Secret Battle: Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, 73, Reveals He Fought Cancer for a Second Time During Lockdown — The Sun
  23. Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ) — Patient Version — National Cancer Institute
  24. Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Meet Our Guests: Bryant Gumbel — PBS
  25. Bryant Gumbel Reveals Battle With Lung Cancer — ABC News
  26. Bryant Gumbel Reveals Lung Cancer Surgery — CNN
  27. Gerald McRaney— IMDb
  28. Gerald McRaney Has Cancer Surgery — Today
  29. Actor McRaney Undergoes Cancer Surgery — Today

    Posted on July 1, 2024
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    Suzanne Mooney writes about people, pets, health and wellness, and travel. Learn more about her here.

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