More often than not, we view celebrities as demigods that walk the earth. They all live in Hollywood and seem to float through their perfect, untouchable lives — but that image just isn’t true. Although celebs definitely have privilege, they are very much human, and they get scary cancer diagnoses just like the rest of us mortals.
And, like it or not, celebrities are role models. When they find out they have cancer, many of them seize the opportunity to act as ambassadors. They put their battles front and center, which not only gives a voice to other people who have cancer, it also inspires them to keep fighting. Letting the world know that cancer can happen to anyone, even someone famous, can really have a profound effect.
Here are 18 celebrities who had cancer and went public to inspire others in their own fight, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Cynthia Nixon to Robert De Niro.
A version of this article was originally published in October 2016.