Celebrities Get Skin Cancer Too

Community Member
Cybill Shepherd

Sometimes we put movie stars and celebrities into this category of super human folk who never get sick but it simply isn't true. They get sick too just like anybody else. And some of them develop skin cancer. I am going to be writing today about the celebrities who have survived skin cancer and their message of awareness and prevention.

Let's first talk about Cybill Shepherd. Remember her from the show Moonlighting? People Magazine reported in 2002 that she had a single growth on her back which turned out to be one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, melanoma.   Evidently she had baked in the sun a lot as a teen as in those days skin cancer prevention was not as prevalent as today. Cybill Shepherd was successfully treated for her melanoma and is now an advocate for both skin cancer awareness and sun safety.

Another famous celebrity who has had skin cancer is talk show host Regis Philbin. He openly talked about his Mohs surgery to remove squamous cell cancer from his hand. It is reported that Regis Philbin also had skin cancer removed from his face. Both surgeries were successful.

I am sure everyone knows who Elizabeth Taylor is. Along with being a famous movie star who starred in such films as Cleopatra, she is also a skin cancer survivor. In 2002 CBS News reported that at the age of 70, she was treated with radiation therapy for basal cell carcinoma. This treatment was very successful and her doctor stated that there was no evidence of any residual disease.

Melanie Griffith who is known for her starring role in such films as Working Girl is reported to have undergone surgery to remove the early stages of skin cancer from her face in 2009. CNN Entertainment informed readers that the procedure was done early enough to prevent further complications.

Senator John McCain's skin cancer became a news event during the 2000 Republican convention and then again during the 2008 Presidential race. It was reported in Newsweek that McCain first developed skin cancer back in 1993 when he had a melanoma removed from his arm. In 2000 he developed two new melanomas which were removed along with one of his lymph nodes. One melanoma was located on his left arm and the other on his temple. If you look at any photos of McCain you can see the scar left from his surgery which runs down the back of his neck. His surgery was deemed as successful.

The New York Times showed a 2002 photo of McCain with a bandage where he had a fourth melanoma removed from his nose. John McCain can be considered lucky as he has now survived multiple melanomas.

Not all celebrities have been so lucky. Singer Eva Cassidy, singer and performer Bob Marley, as well as the keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen's E Street band, Danny Federici, have all died from their skin cancer.

Many of the celebrities who have survived their skin cancer have a message to tell of prevention and awareness. Like celebrity Lisa Gastineau, for example. Lisa Gastineau is best known for her 2005 E Reality show, "Gastineau Girls." Access Hollywood   has recently shown several videos of this socialite mom talking about her diagnosis of melanoma and subsequent surgery. You can also see her facial reconstructive surgery   performed to correct a defect caused by the removal of deadly melanomas from her nose.

This celebrity thanks her daughter for pointing out the melanoma and convincing her to go to the dermatologist. One of the messages of prevention given by Lisa Gastineau is to stay away from tanning beds.   She had used tanning beds for over fifteen years and said she was told back then that tanning beds were safer than the sun. Gastineau says that this is a lie.

In my next posts we are going to be focusing on the ways to prevent skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates there were approximately 11,590 deaths from skin cancer in 2009. Awareness and prevention are critical to decrease this number. If you have survived skin cancer please share your story here. You could be one of the people who could save a life with your message.