Kathy Bates went ‘berserk’ after being diagnosed with incurable condition

    There’s no one equally terrifying and hilarious as Kathy Bates, who clinched awards for her roles in comedies, dramas, and thrillers.

    Her ongoing role as a two-times cancer survivor living with lymphedema – her toughest to date – may not deliver a Hollywood award but as an inspiration, she’s earned global recognition.

    The 75-year-old actor, who after having her uterus, breasts, and lymph nodes removed was diagnosed with an incurable lymphatic disease, said she’s “blessed” to use her “celebrity to do something that can maybe help people.” Keep reading to learn about this incredible actor’s health journey!

    Tennessee-born Kathy Bates is a stage and screen performer, best known for her award-winning appearances in Misery, Primary Colors, Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell and American Horror Story: Coven.

    The actor, who’s earned several nominations since she started her career in the early 1970s, is recognized for her terrifying, dramatic, and comedic roles.

    In 2003, only one year after shocking audiences when she appeared all nude in her starring role opposite Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, Bates learned she had ovarian cancer.

    Then, in 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, that resulted in a double mastectomy.

    Bates’ bad luck with her health wasn’t going to improve.

    ‘I went berserk’
    “Then I got something called lymphedema,” she told Kelly Clarkson when she appeared on her show in 2019. “I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but for cancer, they remove lymph nodes. I don’t care anywhere in your body. If your lymph system is damaged, oftentimes the fluid will back up in the affected limb.”

    In treating cancers, lymph nodes are often removed because the invasive disease often travels through the lymphatic system. Once the nodes are gone, extra lymph fluid can build up in tissues and cause swelling, usually in the arm and hand.

    Speaking with SurvivorNet, the Dolores Claiborne star shares the hardest part of her health journey wasn’t cancer, but the lymphedema, a side effect of her surgery.

    “I went berserk,” she said. “I left the examining room and ran out of the building. I still had my drains in, I was holding a pillow to my t*ts, and I thought, ‘What am I doing? It’s July, I’m standing out here, it’s hot, I’m still healing, I don’t want to hurt anything.’”

    The Fried Green Tomatoes star added: “I was bitter, I was depressed. I thought my career was over, I thought, ‘There’s no way, I’m done, everything is done.’”

    Though the condition is incurable and progressive, The National Health Service (NHS) reports that lymphedema’s major symptoms are treatable by using measures that limit fluid accumulation.

    ‘Light inside’
    But then she found a lymphedema expert who helped her cope.

    “I went to her, still angry, told her all of my tales. And she said, ‘Well, that’s all in the past, and now you’re going to begin the rest of your life.’” Speaking of her doctor, Bates continued: “Some people just have light inside.”

    In addition to her treatments and compression sleeves to manage the pain and swelling in both of her arms, the Blind Side star also found healing in helping others.

    Now an advocate for lymphedema, Bates – acting as the national spokesperson for Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN) – uses her profile to bring awareness to the condition. “It’s estimated that 10 million people in this country suffer with it,” she told Clarkson. “That’s more than ALS, muscular dystrophy, MS, Parkinson’s and AIDS combined.”

    Bates also shared with Clarkson that it’s crucial for patients to push for a concrete diagnosis if they’re not feeling well. Mostly because lymphedema can go unnoticed by doctors. “Nobody knows about it and especially if we’re big girls and we go to a doctor and say, ‘I don’t feel right, my legs are swelling’ they say, ‘Oh, just go have a salad,’” she explained.

    Fortunately, the star of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret found a support system to help her manage and she hasn’t let her health slow her down.

    Bates, who most recently appeared in 2023’s The Miracle Club, added: “I didn’t want to have cancer…and I really don’t want to have lymphedema…I feel blessed [to have the condition] because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in a position to use my celebrity to do something that can maybe help people.”

    Kathy Bates is so inspiring and we can’t think of a better way to use fame for good!

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