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Q&A with Kathy Bates

The veteran actress, who is in three movies and two TV series this year, talks about what she learned from surviving ovarian cancer.
By Linda Formichelli
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

A popular actress on stage and screen, Kathy Bates has played everything from an unhappy wife (Fried Green Tomatoes) to a literary fan gone psychopathic (Misery), a free spirit mother of an adult son (About Schmidt), a wisecracking political advisor (Primary Colors), and Gertrude Stein (Midnight in Paris). She has appeared in numerous TV shows and series, including Six Feet Under, The Late Shift, and Annie. She sat down with WebMD the Magazine to talk about her experience with ovarian cancer, her health habits, her favorite healthy snack, and just what piece of advice she'd like to give other women.

In your video interview for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, you said that going through the experience of fighting ovarian cancer was the best thing that ever happened to you. Why is that?

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General Information About Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors

Ovarian low malignant potential tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissue covering the ovary. Ovarian low malignant potential tumors have abnormal cells that may become cancer, but usually do not. This disease usually remains in the ovary. When disease is found in one ovary, the other ovary should also be checked carefully for signs of disease. The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow,...

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It helped me see that I'm lucky, and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to continue working, to have relationships with friends, to travel, to have a good relationship with my family. All the things that we begin to take for granted in our daily lives.

You advocate listening to your body and heading to the doctor if anything strikes you as wrong. Before the cancer, did you tend to ignore what your own body was telling you?

You get to the point where you don't want to go to the doctor. You tell yourself you don't want any bad news. [In 2003] I was in Europe and a friend said, "You know, you don't look well." I was very flushed and very tired and I kept thinking it was the heat. Finally I decided I was not feeling right and I went back home and saw the gynecologist.

How have your health habits changed since?

I've tried to eat better. I try to get more exercise. It's not always easy; it's a constant battle, but I do the best I can.

How is your health now?

My health is very good. I've got a lot of energy. I feel really positive and happy to be at work.

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