Singer Shaves Head to Demonstrate Support

Lindsay Ray

CURE, Winter 2012, Volume 11, Issue 4

Popular culture news about cancer.

In September, country singer and former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler shaved her head as a show of support for her childhood friend, Shannon Holt Miller, who received a diagnosis of breast cancer in June. The two friends, who call each other “sister,” got their buzz cuts together in Nashville before Miller started chemotherapy. As a further show of solidarity, Pickler dyed her short locks pink for a breast cancer benefit performance at the Hard Rock Café Nashville in October.

Teenage blogger Talia Castellano has become a YouTube sensation with her video makeup reviews and tutorials. Castellano, 13, received a diagnosis of neuroblastoma at age 7 and in August received a diagnosis of pre-leukemia. It was when a friend of her mother’s showed her how to apply makeup that she fell in love with cosmetics. TV talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres took notice of the teen and invited her to be on her show in September. DeGeneres, a CoverGirl model, surprised Castellano when she announced that the brand had made the teen an honorary CoverGirl. DeGeneres also sent Castellano to the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, where she had the opportunity to meet many of the performing artists.

Singer and songwriter Jewel, spokeswoman for Breast Reconstruction Awareness, recently penned the song, “Flower,” for breast cancer survivors. Proceeds from the song are donated to the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund of The Plastic Surgery Foundation. About 70 percent of women aren’t informed of their reconstruction options after undergoing mastectomy.

Robin Roberts, who has been on medical leave from Good Morning America after receiving a bone marrow transplantation to treat myelodysplastic syndrome, has reached a milestone in her treatment. Several complications can arise in the first 100 days post-transplantation, but on Dec. 29, Roberts shared that she had passed the 100-day mark. She tweeted “All will be serene in 2013,” a motto she credits to her sister Dorothy.

Actress Kathy Bates received a diagnosis of breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy this summer, she revealed in September. Bates previously had received an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2003.

Sharon Osbourne also recently had a double mastectomy. The TV host chose to have the preventive procedure after learning she carries a gene mutation with a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Osbourne was successfully treated for colon cancer in 2002.

Young adult and children’s book author, Judy Blume, revealed her breast cancer diagnosis in September and that she had a mastectomy to treat the cancer. Blume had previously been treated for HPV-related cervical cancer.

Actress Bonnie Franklin, best known for her work on the sitcom One Day at a Time, has received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment. She’s most recently appeared on Hot in Cleveland with her former One Day at a Time costar Valerie Bertinelli.

Brooke Burke-Charvet, has recently undergone surgery for thyroid cancer. The Dancing with the Stars co-host said, “the thyroid cancer has been removed from my body and all my lymph nodes are clear.” She has been very active in documenting her progress since her diagnosis via social media, including her blog and Twitter account.

Crooner Andy Williams, 84, perhaps best known for singing “Moon River,” died of complications related to his bladder cancer on Sept. 25. Williams had been performing at his Branson, Mo., theater up until he announced his diagnosis in November 2011.

Alex Karras, 77, a former defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions and later an actor, died at home on October. He had suffered from many ailments, including stomach cancer in the past two years. Karras is perhaps best known to many as portraying the father on Webster during the ’80s, as well as his other various movie and television roles.

Actor Larry Hagman, 81, perhaps best known for portraying J.R. Ewing on Dallas, died from complications of cancer on Nov. 23. He received a diagnosis of throat cancer in October 2011. His breakthrough role came in the ’60s as Tony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie, and his iconic role as J.R. started in 1978 and lasting more than a decade. Most recently, he has reprised this role on the reboot of Dallas.

Former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, 82, died of complications related to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Specter had previously overcome other various ailments, including Hodgkin lymphoma and a brain tumor. He was at the center of many legal proceedings at the national stage, including the investigation into Pres. John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Supreme Court appointments and Pres. Clinton’s impeachment trial. Having served as a Republican senator for almost 30 years, he switched his party affiliation in 2009 to run as a Democrat.