Health & Wellness

Kate Walsh opens up about being diagnosed with 'very sizable' brain tumor

Actress Kate Walsh recently revealed that she went from TV doctor to real-life patient when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015.

During a Monday morning visit to TODAY, the former "Grey's Anatomy" star opened up about her diagnosis and her recovery in her first televised interview on the topic.

"I was exhausted," Walsh said, recalling the first signs of her condition. "But I'd just wrapped a show, 'Bad Judge,' and I was starring in it and executive producing, so it wasn't unheard of to be totally exhausted. So I thought I just really burned myself out."

But unlike usual bouts of exhaustion, it didn't improve in time. In fact, soon her Pilates instructor noted physical symptoms in the gym, and she herself noticed cognitive ones.

It was "beyond aphasia," she explained. "I couldn't find my words; I couldn't find my thought. It was subtle, then it got pretty apparent pretty quick."

Walsh was just 47 at the time, and found that when she visited a neurologist, she had to push to have a diagnostic MRI done.

"Thank God I did!" she said. "They don't hand them out. I had to advocate a little bit for it."

That push turned out to be all-important. The scan revealed Walsh had a "very sizable tumor" comparable to "a small lemon."

Though the news left Walsh feeling as though she'd left her body, three days later, surgery brought good news.

"I was very lucky that it was benign, and they got it all out," she said of the experience.

The meningioma, like the one Maria Menounos was diagnosed with last year, is twice as common in women as it is in men, and Walsh hopes that speaking out about it helps. "I wanted to be of service in a way."

Now she's a paid spokesperson for Cigna, and she and several other former TV doctors have teamed up to urge others to get checked out.

"I love the campaign; I love the humor; I love that it's self-effacing," she said. "But I love, also, the message."

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