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Kate Walsh Opens Up About Having a Brain Tumor

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health & Sex Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist, adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University and has written for publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling...

Kate Walsh on how her brain tumor diagnosis was a wake-up call

Kate Walsh may be familiar with medical jargon after spending years playing a doctor on TV, but as she found out, it’s very different hearing it as a patient.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, the former Grey’s Anatomy actor disclosed that two years ago, she was diagnosed with a large brain tumor, which ended up being benign. She first went to the doctor after significant periods of exhaustion along with difficulty speaking and exercising.

“My pilates instructor said ‘hey, your right side is dipping,’ and it didn’t feel like I was off, but I looked down and could see it. Then when I was driving, I started swerving into the right lane,” Walsh told Cosmopolitan. “The exhaustion got to the point where I could drink five cups of coffee and still not feel awake or clear.”

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Initially, Walsh said that she thought what she was experiencing was tied to menopause, but ultimately went with her instinct to consult a neurologist. Following an MRI, she found out that she had a tumor the size of a lemon in her brain and had surgery to remove it three days later.

Even though the tumor was benign, Walsh said that the whole experience was a big wake-up call for her.

“Those cliché, existential things do happen when you have a brain tumor, like, ‘How do I really want to spend my time?’ I want to be with my friends and family and work on projects that are hugely important to me, and fun, and that make a cultural contribution,” she told Cosmopolitan. “But my health comes first, and I’ve had to change my lifestyle.”

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As for her time playing a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy and her spinoff Private Practice, it didn’t help when it came to dealing with her diagnosis and treatment. But in fact, she had the opposite experience.

“I played a real badass on TV, but when it comes to being a patient it’s such a vulnerable experience,” she added.

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