Wanda Sykes: “I Had A Double Mastectomy”

Wanda Sykes in yellow jacket talking at a convention tableDuring a recent Ellen DeGeneres show taping, Wanda Sykes made a shocking confession:

“I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it’s scary.”

Sykes admitted that while lab work was being performed after her breast reduction in February 2011 (“I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff,” Sykes joked), doctors discovered she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a stage zero cancer, in her left breast.

Because she has a long history of cancer on her mother’s side of the family, Sykes opted to have a bilateral, or double, mastectomy.

“I was very, very lucky,” Sykes said. “I had the choice of, you can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing. But I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already. I have a lot of breast cancer history on my mother’s side of the family, which I didn’t know about. Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it’s too late?”

Sykes, who’s currently on a stand-up comedy tour and will perform at the New York Comedy Festival in November, joked to DeGeneres that she kept her cancer diagnosis hush hush — the “Ellen” show appearance is the first time she’s discussed it publicly — because she didn’t want to become the cancer “poster child.”

“How many things could I have? I’m black, then lesbian,” she joked. “I can’t be the poster child for everything! At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade, we get a float, it’s a party. I was real hesitant about doing this because, I hate walking. I got a lot of walks coming up!”

Wanda Sykes: “I Chose A Double Mastectomy”

Funny woman Wanda Sykes started off working for the government, the National Security Administration in fact. Yes, the NSA. But when she came to a crossroads, she had to make a decision. That decision paid off and landed her working as a writer on The Chris Rock Show, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999. In 2004, Sykes was named as one of the 25 funniest people in America. She also received critical acclaim for her role on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

But when another crossroads came up in her life, this time dealing with her health, Sykes had another decision to make. So on a Ellen DeGeneres show taping, Wanda Sykes made a shocking confession:
“I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it’s scary.”

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Sykes admitted that while lab work was being performed after her breast reduction in February 2011 (“I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff,” Sykes joked), doctors discovered she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a stage zero cancer, in her left breast.

wanda sykes chris rockThe National Cancer Institute describes DCIS as a collection of abnormal cells inside the lining of a breast duct. “Many doctors don’t consider DCIS to be cancer,” according to this explainer, and some women would suffer no harm from it if left untreated. But in other cases, DCIS progresses and becomes invasive breast cancer – the dangerous kind. The problem is that there’s no way to predict which cases of DCIS are harmless and which will become life-threatening. However, experts agree that when caught at this early stage, the prognosis for women is “excellent.”

Because she has a long history of cancer on her mother’s side of the family, Sykes opted to have a bilateral, or double, mastectomy.

“I was very, very lucky,” Sykes said. “I had the choice of, you can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing. But I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already. I have a lot of breast cancer history on my mother’s side of the family, which I didn’t know about. Do you…