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Pam Grier Opens up about Hardships She Faced Fighting Cervical Cancer

Claudine Varela
Sep 08, 2021
01:26 P.M.
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In 1988, Pam Grier was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer and was given 18 months to live by her doctor. Decades later, yet another cancer rumor hit the actress despite being alive and well. 

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Famous for portraying the tough girl who knows how to handle a gun, Pam Grier’s real-life toughness revealed itself when she was forced to battle the big C.

Pam was only 39 years old when fate dealt her a rough hand. Her doctors had discovered she had stage IV cervical cancer.  

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LEARNING SHE HAD MONTHS TO LIVE

The “Foxy Brown” star, whose first ambition was to become a doctor, had a disease she had to face. It was ironic considering she was a health nut who would run miles daily and adhere to a no-meat diet. 

But a routine cervical test showed abnormalities, and soon she was in the operating room having her disease-ridden tissues removed. Despite the assurance she’d be fine, she got the most devastating call from her pathologist a few days later: she was told she had 16-18 months to live. 

Pam Grier speaking at the 2014 Winter Television Critics Association tour on January 9, 2014 in Pasadena, California. | Source: Getty Images

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HER LONELY BATTLE WITH THE BIG C

Cancer wasn’t new to her family. Her sister Krista died of breast cancer. At the time Pam was diagnosed in 1988, having cancer was a death sentence. Doctors prepared her for the worst and even asked that she draw up her will. 

It took a while for Pam to begin treatment since she was fresh off surgery. But when she began what she described as a “full-time job” of treatments, she said it was the loneliest she’s been.

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LOSING PEOPLE CLOSE TO HER

It was then she realized who her real friends were. "You learn who your friends are when you have cancer," she admitted.

Many of the people she thought were her friends couldn’t cope with her reality. Even her boyfriend failed to show up on her first session of chemo, and the next time she saw him was five years later. 

Pam Grier at the world premiere of "Bones" on October 23, 2001 in Los Angeles. | Source: Getty Images

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BEATING HER ODDS

But fate became kind to Pam. She believes a stroke of luck helped her overcome what she assumed would be the reason for her death. Through the combination of eastern and western medicine, she beat cancer.

Her doctor sent her to a Chinese herbalist who prescribed her herbs, tinctures, and a lot of intake of hot tea to release toxins. This plus yoga and chemotherapy are what Pam thinks cured her and ultimately saved her life. 

Pam Grier at the 3rd Annual Black Girls Rock! Awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 2, 2008 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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BACK TO BASICS

Though no one is ever cured of cancer, Pam has been in remission for years. Not one to take her health lightly, she constantly surrounds herself with the simplicities of the environment.

She currently resides on a farm in rural Colorado and delights in coming home to “a well of fresh, clear mountain water with no chemicals in it and clean air,” she tells Oprah Winfrey. 

Pam Grier at the ABC Television Winter Press Tour, January 2020 | Source: Getty Images

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In January 2020, Grier had to speak out after rumors surfaced online that she was yet again suffering from stage 4 cancer. A representative for the 72-year-old star revealed then that Grier was healthy and happy to be working on her ABC show "Bless This Mess."

A Golden Globe nominee for Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown," Grier is happy to be alive and is healthier than ever. She's kept a low profile recently after a career spanning 50 years, which includes starring on hits like "Miami Vice," "Mars Attacks!," "In Too Deep," and "Jawbreaker."

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