Public Figures Who Helped Raise Cancer Awareness

At the start of September, millions of people in the UK were deeply saddened when the news broke that BBC newsreader Bill Turnbull has tragically passed away from prostate cancer.

One of the most familiar faces of morning television, Bill Turnbull’s legacy is far-reaching, but one of the most important parts of this as eloquently put by Prostate Cancer UK is his honest discussion of the diagnosis, his advocacy for cancer care and his support for the many men facing this condition.

As oncology research improves and the potential outcomes for people who are diagnosed with cancer early are increasingly positive, one of the most difficult challenges is to raise awareness to ensure that people get tested when they are younger and more regularly once they pass middle age.

Being diagnosed with cancer at an early stage can help significantly improve outcomes, and the people who have public platforms that are brave enough to share their stories, raise awareness and advocate and encourage people to get tested do more good than they perhaps even realise.

Here are just a few of those brave faces.

Kylie Minogue

The Australian pop singer and actor who kept capturing people’s hearts first on the soap opera Neighbours, as well as two successful pop runs and a starring role in the cult classic Street Fighter (the last role of Raul Julia, who was also tragically taken from us by cancer), entered a battle of her own in 2005.

At the age of 36, Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer and once she had entered remission she started to talk openly about her experiences with her diagnosis and later her chemotherapy treatment.

This public discussion of her treatment and the effect it had inspired young women to get regular cancer checks, described by the Cultural Minister of France as the “Kylie effect”.

Olivia Newton-John

The late Olivia Newton-John was an advocate for many incredible causes, but the one that she dedicated a lot of her songwriting ability and energy towards was breast cancer.

After her initial diagnosis in 1992, Ms Newton-John wrote a confessional album about it entitled Gaia: One Woman’s Journey, chronicling her emotional journey through a particularly difficult period in her life.

For the rest of her life, she would advocate for breast cancer research organisations, although tragically her cancer would return in 2013 and later in 2017.

Mr T

The ever-enigmatic fool-pitier that was Mr T was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma, battling the illness for several years before finally entering remission.

Given that Mr T has an inimitable philosophy when looking at practically everything in life, he joked that the type of cancer had his name on it, before writing a currently unpublished book called Cancer Saved My Life: Cancer Ain’t For No Wimps.

He also encouraged people not to give up and, in his typical style, “make death find” them and live their life.

Rod Stewart

One of the best-selling singers of all time, Rod Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2001, manifesting in vocal cord tumours that threatened his career and his life.

He managed to pull through, relearn how to sing and has since actively raised funds for The City Of Hope Foundation and has had a second battle, this time with Prostate cancer in 2017.