Suzanne Somers, the vivacious actress and entrepreneur best known for her roles on sitcoms like “Three’s Company,” faced numerous health challenges throughout her life. But she met them with a determined spirit and openness that inspired them. Her resilient battle with an especially aggressive form of breast cancer, triple negative, exemplified her strength.
Early Acting Success And Cancer Diagnoses
Born in 1946, Somers found fame in the 1970s playing the bubbly blonde Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company.” Behind the scenes, she privately battled cancer three times during the show’s run from 1977-1984, including malignant melanoma.
Somers continued acting in the 1980s and 1990s, starring in the sitcom “Step by Step”. She also became a Las Vegas entertainer and launched ThighMaster, building a thriving business career. Her entrepreneurial ventures included books on health, beauty products, and alternative medicine advocacy.
In April 2000, at age 53, Somers received a shocking breast cancer diagnosis following a routine mammogram. Doctors determined she had triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive subtype lacking estrogen, progesterone receptors, and HER2. This ruled out hormone therapy or HER2-targeted treatments, leaving chemotherapy the standard of care.
Pursuing An Integrative Approach
Rather than immediately starting chemo, Somers researched alternative options. She ultimately opted for an integrative approach combining conventional treatments like surgery with alternative medicine therapies.
In July 2001, Somers underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, followed by radiation therapy. Against her doctor’s advice, she skipped chemotherapy drugs, concerned about their toxic effects. Somers instead focused on natural remedies like herbs, supplements, diet, and bioidentical hormones.
Her vocal advocacy for alternative medicine amid a breast cancer diagnosis sparked criticism. The medical community argued her public platform could endanger others by promoting unproven approaches over evidence-based treatments. Somers stood by her choice to balance both worlds while educating women.
Spreading A Message Of Hope
True to her positive spirit, Somers brought her battle with breast cancer into the public eye to inspire. She openly shared her experiences in interviews, books, and online platforms.
Rather than hiding her diagnosis, Somers discussed it candidly when she found out. After those shocking words, she recounted the emotional rollercoaster: “You have cancer.” Somers admitted she initially feared the worst but quickly shifted to a determined mindset.
Somers aimed to be a reassuring voice for others facing cancer by going public. She wanted to give them hope and motivation to take charge of their health. Somers often emphasized that a diagnosis wasn’t necessarily a death sentence.
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Her message resonated with many women who saw her thriving years later and pursuing new passions. Somers proved leading an active, joyful life was possible despite cancer. She credited both alternative medicine and her optimistic outlook.
Defying The Odds
Triple-negative breast cancer has a high recurrence rate within the first 5 years after diagnosis. Due to the aggressive nature, the 5-year survival rate is only around 77% compared to 93% for other breast cancers.
Yet Somers defied those odds and lived another 23 years. In 2007, she announced she was cancer-free after her integrative treatment approach. Sadly, her cancer returned in the summer of 2023 at age 76, requiring more treatment.
By then, Somers had surpassed the average life expectancy for triple-negative patients by over a decade. Despite this difficult diagnosis, her longevity spoke to her perseverance and unconventional methods.
Somers passed away peacefully at home on October 15, 2023, surrounded by loved ones. But in her final months, she emphasized cancer would not define her. Somers insisted she remained in control of her health and future.
An Enduring Legacy
Even in the end, Somers kept the same positive attitude that characterized her decades in the public eye. She tackled her cancer journey with remarkable resilience.
Rather than hiding it, Somers shared intimate details about her illness openly. She chose to be a public face of living with cancer, surviving, and thriving.
That openness and spirit left a meaningful impact. With courage, knowledge, and determination, Somers showed what was possible when facing a devastating diagnosis. Her outlook on life remained upbeat.
Somers ultimately passed at 76, but she never stopped fighting. She enlightened and inspired other women battling serious illnesses by sharing her difficult journey. Somers proved that cancer did not have to define a person’s fate if they faced it head-on with hope.