‘I did all the tests I knew about’: Olivia Munn’s message after ‘terrifying’ diagnosis

When Olivia Munn was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago, it came as a shock.

The 43-year-old Newsroom actress had, to the best of her belief, done everything she possibly could to stop it. Her annual mammogram, conducted just three months before, had come back clear, and she had also recently tested negative to having the BRCA cancer gene.

Cancer doesn’t care who you are; it doesn’t care if you have a baby or if you don’t have time,” Munn, who was two weeks away from starting a new film in Germany at the time of her diagnosis, told People. “It comes at you, and you have no choice but to face it head-on.”

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It was one month ago when Munn took to her Instagram account and shared with her 2.9 million followers that in April 2023, she had been diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer.

Specifically, Munn had luminal B – a fast-moving, aggressive cancer – in both breasts.

And while mammograms generally detect four out of five types of breast cancer, it’s estimated, according to the National Cancer Institute, that 20 per cent of breast cancers go undetected.

“I was walking around thinking that I had no breast cancer,” Munn said. “I did all the tests that I knew about.”

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Munn had been diagnosed after her OB-GYN, Dr Thaïs Aliabadi, suggested she calculate her lifetime breast cancer risk score, which factors in elements including the age of one’s first period and family history of breast cancer.

What followed Munn’s “alarming” score was an MRI, which revealed a spot in Munn’s right breast, a biopsy, which confirmed she had invasive cancer in both breasts, and then, ultimately, four surgeries in 10 months, three of which – including a double mastectomy – occurred within 30 days.

“I was not someone who obsessed over death or was afraid of it in any way,” Munn said, noting how having her young son waiting for her at home, however, “made everything much more terrifying.”

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She shares her two-year-old son, Malcolm Hiệp Mulaney, with comedian John Mulaney.

Munn has not had to undergo chemotherapy or radiation as part of her treatment, but she did begin hormone suppression therapy in November – four months before she went public with her diagnosis – to mitigate the risk of recurrence in the future.

As a result, she’s been put into medically induced menopause, which means she’s experiencing hot flushes, tiredness and her hair thinning.

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Part of the reason Munn – who has been working in Hollywood since 2004, but truly broke out into the spotlight in the early 2010s with roles in Iron Man 2, Date Night and The Newsroom – decided to keep her battle private for so long was so she could recuperate and ”fight without any outside noise at all.”

“There’s so much information, and you’re making these huge decisions for the rest of your life,” Munn said.

“I really tried to be prepared, but the truth is that nothing could prepare me for what I would feel like… It was a lot tougher than I expected.”

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Thankfully, she’s had Mulaney – whom she’s publicly been with since 2021 – and their son by her side throughout it all.

“If my body changes, I’m still his mum. If I have hot flashes, I’m still his mum. If I lose my hair, I’m still his mum,” Munn says of their son.

“That’s really what matters the most to me. I get to be here for him.”

This article does not replace specific medical advice from seeing a medical professional. If you have questions about your body specifically, seek advice from your doctor.