Black stars who faced breast cancer & shared their stories

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During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are highlighting Black celebrities who have opened up about their experiences with breast cancer.

Keep scrolling to read the stories of Robin Roberts, Matthew Knowles, Hoda Kotb, and more.

Guerdy Abraira

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Real Housewives of Miami star Guerdy Abraira was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45. Abraira opened up about her diagnosis in May.

“I was in St. Barts having the time of my life when my doctor called me with results following a regular mammogram checkup. I have breast cancer,” Abraira said on social media. “It took me a while to process it all and this is why I took a break from social media last month as many noticed. Many of you reached out to check on me and I am thankful for your caring gestures.”

“This process is definitely intense and what I ask of you is empowerment not pity,” she added.

Robin Roberts

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Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 46. She shared her diagnosis on air in 2007.

“My family here [at ABC] knows, and my family at home knows,” Roberts said during the show. “And I’m very, very blessed and thankful that I found it early.”

Roberts said she found a lump in her breast during a self-examination. The anchor completed eight chemotherapy treatments in January 2008.

In February 2022, Roberts’ wife, Amber Laign, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. During an emotional appearance on Ellen, Roberts opened up about her partner’s diagnosis.

“Like many people, [Laign] had put off going to the doctor during the pandemic, and then at the end of last year, she followed through with a regular breast exam and it was discovered,” Roberts said. “So the message is: get those regular exams, it can save your life.”

Hoda Kotb

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Today anchor Hoda Kotb was diagnosed with cancer at age 42. Kotb had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in March 2007 after discovering a lump in her breast.

In 2008, Kotb opened up about how her cancer diagnosis changed her life.

“Staring down the scariest thing that could have happened to me gave me the strength to take on new challenges,” the anchor said on Today. “When I got back to work, one of the first things I did was walk into my bosses’ offices … to tell them I wanted to be Today’s fourth-hour co-host. Before cancer, I don’t think I had the confidence to fight for the position, but now here I am, living my dream job.”

Mathew Knowles

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Matthew Knowles, a music producer and father to Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 67. Knowles said he decided to go to the doctor after noticing small blood spots on his shirt and bedsheets.

After undergoing treatment, the music producer found out he had the BRCA gene, which can mutate and lead to cancer. Knowles has advocated for people to consider genetic testing and learn more about the risk of breast cancer for men, who only make up 1 percent of roughly 270,000 annual diagnoses in America.

“A whole lot has to change in the education of men about breast cancer,” Knowles said. “I want to save lives, especially in the Black community,”

Wanda Sykes

Comedian Wanda Sykes opened up about having breast cancer at age 47. Sykes said she found out that she had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or stage 0 breast cancer while undergoing a breast-reduction surgery.

“I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it’s scary,” she announced in 2011 on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. “It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast […] I was very, very lucky.”

Due to a family history of breast cancer, Sykes decided to have a double mastectomy.

“It sounds scary up front, but what do you want? Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it’s too late?” the comedian previously said.

Richard Roundtree

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Actor Richard Roundtree was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 after finding a lump while filming a movie in Costa Rica.

Five years after his diagnosis, Roundtree opened up about living with cancer at a celebrity golf tournament raising money for a mobile breast cancer diagnostic unit.

“I just got up and told everybody that I was a breast cancer survivor,” the actor said, per “The room was totally silent. I think it dawned on people that men can be affected by this, too.”

Roundtree is continuing to work on spreading awareness about male breast cancer.

Vanessa Bell Calloway

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Coming to America star Vanessa Bell Calloway was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or stage 0 breast cancer, at age 52.

Calloway opened up about her cancer diagnosis in a personal essay for Ebony.

“I didn’t want to miss life. I decided cancer was not going to ruin me […] Anytime you go through anything so emotional, you learn a lot. I’m very grateful and blessed. I love my birthdays even more,” she wrote.

Upon her diagnosis, Calloway underwent a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, and breast reconstruction surgery.

“I forget I even had cancer sometimes because I’m so entrenched in the goodness of life. It’s a gift,” the actress wrote for Ebony.

Bershan Shaw

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TV personality Bershan Shaw was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer at age 33.

“I thought my life was over. I thought I was never going to make it in my career. I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I saw no tunnel nor light,” Shaw previously shared on social media.

“I’m here today alive. 12 years after my first diagnosis and ten years after my second diagnosis. I stayed faithful. I prayed. I stayed positive in my beliefs. I did affirmations. I told myself every day that I was a Warrior.”

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