Known for her incredible talent and ability to take on complex roles with ease, Kathy Bates has been in the profession for decades.
But what many probably don’t know is that she has also faced serious health problems throughout her career. Despite these problems, Ella Bates hasn’t let anything stop her. She continues to act and take on new projects that demonstrate her creativity and her love for what she does.
Starting a career is never easy, especially in Hollywood without connections, but for Kathy Bates, it was even more difficult. The actress struggled to find work in the ’70s and had to do odd jobs while she landed minor roles. According to her, her physical appearance played an important role: “I’m not a stunning woman… When I was younger, it was a real problem because I was never beautiful enough for the roles that other young women were playing.”
Consequently, she frequently found herself pigeonholed into similar character archetypes, often portraying older or eccentric individuals. Bates candidly acknowledged the challenges this presented during an interview. However, the tide turned in 1990 when she secured her breakthrough role in “Misery” and earned an Oscar for her exceptional performance.
Bates was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003 and she underwent surgery and chemotherapy. She went into remission, but in 2012 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, for which she underwent a double mastectomy. After the operation, Ella Bates developed lymphedema, a chronic swelling that can appear after lymph nodes are removed.
She “she was bitter, depressed. I thought my career was over, I thought: ‘There’s no way, I’m done, it’s all done,’” Bates revealed about how she left all that behind.
Since then, Kathy has not stopped talking about the disease and she uses her platform to raise awareness. “I want to insist that this is not an aesthetic issue. Although the lasting effects, discomfort, and limitations of lymphedema may be invisible to others, it is an incurable disease,” she said in her speech when she became spokesperson for The Lymphatic Education & Research Network.
Rather than allowing her health challenges to impede her, Bates persists in radiating on-screen and savoring each day to the fullest. She shares, “I believe I’ve been checking off my bucket list in recent years, having encountered and savored countless remarkable experiences. If my journey were to end tomorrow, I wouldn’t have any regrets.” Additionally, Bates has opted to forgo prosthetic breasts when not required for a role, finding comfort and confidence in her natural physique.
“I’m grateful to be alive,” Ella Bates revealed when asked what she was grateful for. She added that she is grateful to be able to help millions of people with lymphedema. Bates also lost about 60 pounds, and she says her weight loss helped ease her symptoms.