Olivia Munn Says ‘Nothing Could Prepare Me’ for Breast Cancer in Emotional New Interview

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Olivia Munn stunned fans last month when she revealed she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer in a candid post on social media. The actress went on to explain that she’d undergone four surgeries to treat the aggressive Luminal B breast cancer that doctors had found in both breasts, telling fans, “I went from feeling completely fine one day, to waking up in a hospital bed after a 10-hour surgery the next.” Now the actress and mom of one is sharing more about her harrowing story in hopes of helping others.

“You realize cancer doesn’t care who you are; it doesn’t care if you have a baby or if you don’t have time,” Munn told People in a new cover story. “It comes at you, and you have no choice but to face it head-on.”

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A major part of Munn’s story was her path to diagnosis, which came in March 2023. Just three months earlier, her annual mammogram had come back clear, and a recent test for the BRCA cancer gene was negative as well. “I was walking around thinking that I had no breast cancer,” she recalled. But Munn’s ob-gyn, Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi, asked to calculate her lifetime breast cancer risk score using a free online tool, which factors in things like her age at her first period, her family’s breast cancer history, and her age when she had her first child.

Munn’s score came back as 37.3 percent, way above the 20 percent threshold that signals a need for additional screening. Munn went in for an MRI, which allowed doctors to ultimately identify cancerous tumors in both breasts. Her medical team recommended a double mastectomy. “I really tried to be prepared, but the truth is that nothing could prepare me for what I would feel like, what it would look like, and how I would handle it emotionally,” Munn said of going through the treatment. “It was a lot tougher than I expected,” she added, describing it as “a shock to my system” the first time she saw her body post-procedure.

Munn revealed to People that, during the surgery, doctors had found a “tangerine-sized” area of ductal carcinoma in situ, a type of preinvasive cancer. The discovery “gave me peace that I’d made the right decision.” Munn also chose to wait until fall to undergo reconstructive surgery to give her body time to heal, all while keeping the news private and away from the headlines, which she said “allowed me time to fight without any outside noise at all.”

Munn opted to “go smaller” during her reconstructive surgery, and highlighted how she needed to advocate for herself. “I know a lot of women want to go bigger,” she explained. “It’s so important to say what you want out loud.” She also spoke up when she chose to undergo a nipple delay procedure, which preserves the nipples before a mastectomy. “I had amazing doctors, but it was still a negotiation sometimes on what we are doing,” she said. “I’m glad I did [do the nipple delay]. I want to give myself the best shot of keeping the parts of me that I can keep.”

In addition to the surgeries, Munn started hormone suppression therapy to decrease her future risk of breast cancer, which led to medically induced menopause. “I’m constantly thinking it’s hot, my hair is thinning, and I’m tired a lot,” Munn says of the symptoms, but she notes that having her two-year-old son, Malcolm, around has helped her keep everything in perspective. “If my body changes, I’m still his mom. If I have hot flashes, I’m still his mom,” explained Munn, who had Malcolm with partner John Mulaney. “That’s really what matters the most to me.”

And while Munn struggled emotionally after undergoing surgery, she notes that it was a sacrifice that was more than worth it. “I’m extremely happy that I got the opportunity to fight. I was given that chance.”

Before you go, shop these gifts and products for the breast cancer patient or survivor in your life:

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