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Photos: Famous breast cancer survivors

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  1. Christina Applegate

    For actress Christina Applegate, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July, there was only one effective way to deal with her fear over her cancer treatment: Let it all out. "Sometimes, you know, I cry," she told "Good Morning America." "And sometimes I scream. And I get really angry. And I get really upset, you, into wallowing in self-pity sometimes. And I think that's all part of the healing." (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Dame Maggie Smith

    When the 73-year-old actress Maggie Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, it was reported that she insisted on filming her sixth appearance as Professor McGonagall in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" even while undergoing radiation therapy. The Academy Award winner had chemotherapy and radiation after having a lump removed. (Dave Hogan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Maura Tierney

    Best known for her role as medical resident Abby Lockhart in NBC's long-running hospital drama "ER", Maura Tierney confirmed in July 2009 she had a tumor in her breast and needed surgery. As a result, the actress had to leave the NBC fall drama "Parenthood." Tierney's rep said in a statement to Access Hollywood, "Ms. Tierney and her doctors remain confident that the outcome of her treatments will be positive." (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Betsey Johnson

    After her diagnosis in 2002, designer Betsey Johnson tried to deal with the realities of the disease matter-of-factly, instead of obsessively. "I'm not the type of person who dwells too much on bad things," Johnson told USA Today. "I guess the only thing I've done differently is loosened up the reigns on my company and now I'm enjoying life more." (Bryan Bedder / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Carly Simon

    Singer-songwriter and '70s icon Carly Simon found that her breast cancer diagnosis in 1997 gave her life a focal point. "I feel stronger and more vital than ever," she told the New York Daily News. "When you actually have a battle, it's better than when you don't know who to fight." (Jim Cooper / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Cokie Roberts

    Journalist Cokie Roberts' bout with breast cancer only reiterated what she already knew. "I had learned the life lesson that life is short and do the things that are important long before I had cancer," Roberts told Richmond (Va.) Magazine after her diagnosis in 2002. "I knew work is not important, family is, long before I had cancer." (Zack Seckler / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Cynthia Nixon

    Cynthia Nixon understands the reason many women avoid mammograms: The results could be terrifying. "(T)he only thing to really be afraid of is if you don't go get your mammograms, because there's some part of you that doesn't want to know, and that's the thing that's going to trip you up," the actress, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2002, told "Good Morning America." "That's the thing that could have a really bad endgame." (Rick Maiman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Edie Falco

    Actress Edie Falco found the best way to handle her battle with breast cancer was to play it close to the chest -- she even kept her 2003 diagnosis a secret from her "Sopranos" castmates. "I kept my diagnosis under the radar, even from the cast and crew, because well-meaning people would have driven me crazy asking, 'How are you feeling?'" Falco told Health magazine. "I would have wanted to say, 'I'm scared, I don't feel so good, and my hair is falling out!' "I bucked up, put on my Carmela fingernails, and was ready to work." (Peter Kramer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Hoda Kotb

    At times, the best way for Hoda Kotb to deal with the disease was to not deal with it. "Sometimes when things are way too big and I can’t control it, I do sort of a weird thing where I kind of check out a little bit,” she told Ann Curry on the "Today" show after her 2007 diagnosis. “It’s all about self-preservation for me. I couldn’t read the books. I didn’t Google it once. It’s like someone telling you what it’s like to jump out of a plane. I don’t want to know. I just want to jump.” (Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Jaclyn Smith

    Diagnosed with the disease in 2002, Jaclyn Smith has this advice for anyone facing breast cancer: Don’t go it alone. "I believe in the power of girlfriends," Smith told Prevention magazine. "I believe that family and friends, and especially other women, can make a profound difference during cancer treatment." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Nancy Reagan

    After her breast cancer diagnosis in 1987, former First Lady Nancy Reagan chose to have a mastectomy. It was a controversial decision for the time, and although she received much criticism for it, she defended her choice. ''I couldn't possibly lead the kind of life I lead, and keep the schedule that I do, having radiation or chemotherapy,'' Mrs. Reagan said in a 1987 interview with Barbara Walters. ''There'd be no way. Maybe if I'd been 20 years old, hadn't been married, hadn't had children, I would feel completely differently. But for me it was right.'' (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Olivia Newton-John

    Soon after Olivia Newton-John learned she had breast cancer in 1992, she began calling friends and family to tell them the news. "The second friend I called burst into tears, and I thought, 'I don't need this,'" she told CNN."So I had a sister and friends make the calls. That way I could focus on positive thoughts, instead of on the illness." (Ted Aljibe / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Kylie Minogue

    Doctors initially misdiagnosed the breast cancer of Kylie Minogue, the Australian pop singer has said. Her condition was finally correctly identified in 2005. She had surgery to remove the lump, followed by chemotherapy. The 40-year-old singer is currently in remission and is preparing for her first U.S. tour for the fall of 2009. "It's amazing how many people are affected by cancer and it's definitely something that stays with you and you have a lot to think about and your life changes," she told the Associated Press. "I feel very fortunate." (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Robin Roberts

    At first when she returned to work as a co-anchor for "Good Morning America," Robin Roberts wore a wig -- until one morning in April, when she abandoned it on-air. "I am not my hair," said Roberts, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2007. "I am the soul that lies within and that's it -- no more wig. That's it." (Neilson Barnard / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Peggy Fleming

    The power of positive thinking helped ice skating icon Peggy Fleming win her battle against cancer after she was diagnosed in 1998. "I do remember the dark sides, but I try not to dwell on them," the Olympic gold medalist told the "Today" show. "There's nothing I can do about them anymore. I can change the future. I can't change the past." (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Sheryl Crow

    After her diagnosis in 2006, Sheryl Crow surrounded herself with positive, uplifting people. "I think encouragement always goes a long way," the singer told CNN. "It is so scary ... but having the positive support of loved ones is invaluable." (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Melissa Etheridge

    Somewhere along the road to becoming disease-free after her 2004 diagnosis, Melissa Etheridge knew she had to start removing the cancer in every area of her life. "I've changed my lifestyle," she told "Dateline NBC." "I have taken what I consider poisonous things out of my life. Out of my food, out of my work, out of my social circle, out of everything. Because I want a clean, cancer-free life. And I believe I can have that." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Suzanne Somers

    Three years after her diagnosis in 2000, actress Suzanne Somers went on "Larry King Live" to talk about her experience with the disease. "I look at everybody differently. I look at every child differently. I look at every flower differently," Somers said. "I'm grateful for every day. ... (I)t's like before and after. Once you've had (cancer), you just appreciate everything." (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 10/30/2009 8:59:24 AM ET 2009-10-30T12:59:24

The ABC affiliate in Washington is airing a two-part series that takes a close — and unobscured — look at breast self-exams. The series is airing during the fall "sweeps" period critical for a TV station's ad revenue, prompting concern by a parental watchdog group. But WJLA insists it's not just a naked attempt to boost the ratings.

The two segments include clinical demonstrations of self-exams, and the breasts of the two volunteers are not blurred. They were to air during the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts Thursday and Friday.

WJLA officials said the segments are providing an important service because many women don't know how to properly check their breasts.

"In talking to women, we found out there really weren't a lot of women who knew how to do self breast exams," station manager Bill Lord said.

The station's adult viewers are 58 percent female, spokeswoman Abby Fenton said.

The Parents Television Council reacted cautiously to news of the series but suggested it saw the potential for problems.

"We hope that WJLA-TV is not using a crucial public health issue as a ratings stunt, and that the station has fully considered what is appropriate to tell this important story to the public in the most suitable manner possible," the group said in a statement. That might mean different versions of the story at 5 p.m. and at 11 p.m., it added.

The segments will be breaking a broadcast television taboo against exposed breasts. The Federal Communications Commission fined CBS Corp. for the "wardrobe malfunction" that bared Janet Jackson's breast during the 2004 Super Bowl. But Lord said he did not believe a clinical demonstration in a medical story on a news show would run into any trouble with decency standards.

One of the two women featured in the WJLA segments has breast cancer and caught it by doing a self-exam.

The reports also include interviews with Elizabeth Edwards and Tanya Snyder, the wife of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Both have been public about their struggles with breast cancer.

Not all breast cancer awareness advocates agree that self-exams are an effective tool. The WJLA segments don't report on that controversy, instead focusing on how to do the exams correctly.

Lord said the issue is personal for him. His mother-in-law died of breast cancer, and his mother had the disease too.

"I have a wife and three daughters," he said. "I want them to see this."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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