Kathy Griffin reveals lung cancer diagnosis, says she’s also in recovery for drug addiction

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4-min read

Kathy Griffin has lung cancer and underwent surgery Monday to have the mass removed. She shared the health news along with detailing a secret pill addiction she's privately been battling, which got so dark she attempted suicide in 2020.

The 60-year-old comedian announced her cancer diagnosis on Monday on social media, noting that it is stage one and that her doctors "are very optimistic."

"I've got to tell you guys something," the star of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List began her post. "I'm about to go into surgery to have half of my left lung removed. Yes, I have lung cancer even though I've never smoked!"

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Griffin continued, "The doctors are very optimistic as it is stage one and contained to my left lung. Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing. I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less."

She added, "Of course I am fully vaccinated for COVID. The consequences for being unvaccinated would have been even more serious. Please stay up to date on your medical check ups. It'll save your life."

The star also noted "it's been a helluva 4 years, trying to get back to work," while dealing with backlash from her infamous 2017 photo shoot mocking former President Donald Trump and losing her mother Maggie and sister Joyce, "making you guys laugh and entertaining you, but I'm gonna be just fine."

A rep for Griffin told People on Monday afternoon, "She is now out of surgery and everything went well, per her doctor."

In a new interview airing on ABC New's Nightline on Monday, Griffin said the fallout from that photo shoot, which saw her posing with what appeared to be a bloodied mask bearing Trump’s likeness leading to death threats and a federal investigation, left her in a dark place. While she said she had never even had a drink before in her life, by June 2020 she had a serious painkiller addiction and attempted suicide.

“The irony is not lost on me that, a little over a year ago, all I wanted to do was die," Griffin said. "And now, all I wanna do is live" amid her cancer battle.

Griffin said the addiction started from her taking Provigil, an amphetamine similar to Adderall, which was prescribed by a doctor. She was later prescribed Ambien as a sleep aid, and then painkillers for an elbow injury.

“I really fell in love with them,” she said of the pills. “Then, it was kind of the allure of, ‘Oh, I can regulate my energy levels or my moods. Or ... I fell on my elbow in my act or something and I can be pain-free or something.’ And it got out of control very rapidly.”

Griffin said the suicidal thoughts stemmed from the photo shoot backlash. She talked about losing work and friends (including Anderson Cooper), but more having her home address posted online and how she and her family received "legit death threats." People showed up at now-husband Randy Bick's parents house and "tracked my sister down when she was dying of cancer in the hospital and called her."

She said she "started thinking about suicide more and more as I got into the pill addiction, and it became almost an obsessive thought. I started really convincing myself it was a good decision. I got my living revocable trust in order. I had all my ducks in a row. I wrote the note — the whole thing.”

After her suicide attempt, Griffin was hospitalized on a psychiatric hold. After, with Bick's support, she worked with two clinicians to detox, saying the process was arduous.

“The detox was nasty,” Griffin said. “I mean, it was months. I mean, the tremors … and the flop sweat, and I was so unsteady. Like, when I would brush my teeth, my husband had to hold my hips so I wouldn't fall over.”

While Griffin never had a drinking problem, she credits Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for helping “the clouds [start] to part." She is now over a year sober.

No longer using painkillers, she thought she had arthritis but tests conducted by a doctor discovered that a mass she had long had in her lung — getting it X-rayed every three years — had doubled in size.

Because Griffin never smoked, she was surprised by the diagnosis, but, as explained by the American Cancer Society, non-smokers are also at risk.

“I was definitely in shock," she said. "I'm still a little bit in shock. Not denial, but ... once a day, I'll just turn to, like, nobody next to me and go, ‘Can you believe this s***? Is this a bitch or what. It's stage 1. It's nowhere else in my body. So I need to focus on that.”

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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