Actress Kathy Bates Diagnosed With Serious Chronic Health Condition

Kathy Bates has been in the entertainment industry for quite some time. She plays strong women on screen, and she’s just as formidable in person.

The actress’s life took a dramatic turn once she was diagnosed with a chronic disease.

Kathy Bates moved to New York in 1970 to pursue a career in acting. She looks back and reflects on how she made it work despite the fact that she was never an ingenue. “I was never an ingenue,” she says. “I’ve always just been a character actor. When I was younger, it was a real problem, because I was never pretty enough. It was hard, not just for the lack of work, but because you have to face up to how people are looking at you,” Bates said.

Her breakthrough role on Broadway was as Stella May in 1980’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

The actress was passed up for film roles that were based on roles she had previously portrayed.

The portrayal of a crazy fan in Misery, which she played at the age of 42, catapulted her to instant fame and garnered her an Academy Award for best actress.

“You’re either young and glamorous and you’re going to get the lead, or it’s the opposite: you’re not attractive enough,” she said of the jobs she was offered. “So you’re playing the friend or the killer or the lesbian or the doctor or whatever,” she continued. “But the one who gets to play the young, pretty, gets-the-boy-at-the-end role doesn’t have any power. And vice-versa: a character can have power, but not femininity.”

She then moved on to directing episodes for other shows, including the critically acclaimed Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, Oz, and Six Feet Under.

The actress has had several health problems in her personal life. Twice in her life, in 2003 and 2012, she was told she had cancer.

She first learned she had ovarian cancer in 2003, and then in 2012, she learned she had breast cancer.


Actress Kathy Bates began speaking publicly about her lymphedema diagnosis after undergoing breast cancer surgery.

She represents the Lymphatic Education & Research Network as its public face.

She revealed that she had shed 80 pounds over the course of several years.

So that her arms don’t swell, the actress must wear compression sleeves.

Because her disease tends to flare up without them, she always makes sure to wear them when flying or performing difficult work.

The actress has found that slowing down helps her manage the condition: “If I can stop rushing, relax my shoulders, straighten my spine, breathe deeply, and focus on each little moment of completing a task, I have more confidence in my ability to live with LE. The pandemic forced me to slow down.”

She encourages people who have the disease to keep moving on in spite of it. “Going out in public wearing a compression garment, especially when people aren’t educated about LE, can sometimes be more painful than the disease itself. However, hiding at home and living a sedentary life will only make things worse for your body and brain.”

She emphasized the importance of not allowing your disease to define you, as she does not.

She is actively striving to increase lymphedema awareness and the amount of money dedicated to research into the ailment.

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