Kate Walsh is opening up about being diagnosed with a brain tumor, saying it was her own insistence on seeing a neurologist and getting an MRI that led to the discovery of the tumor.
Back in 2015 the actress was wrapping up her starring role on NBC’s “Bad Judge,” in which she was also an executive producer. She assumed her constant exhaustion was the result of the 80-hour weeks she had been working, but her increasingly poor mental and physical state soon led her to see a doctor.
“My Pilates instructor said, ‘Hey, your right side is dipping.’ And it didn’t feel like I was off, but I looked down and could see it. Then when I was driving, I started swerving into the right lane,” Walsh told Cosmopolitan. “The exhaustion got to the point where I could drink five cups of coffee and still not feel awake or clear. And then around April I started having more cognitive difficulties. It felt like aphasia, but it wasn’t just not being able to find words; I would lose my train of thought, I wasn’t able to finish sentences, and that was when I got really alarmed.”
The actress, known for such roles as on-screen surgeon Addison Montgomery in “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” as well as the grieving mother Olivia Baker in Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” opened up to Cosmo about seeking medical help for the tumor, discovered to be a benign meningioma — a tumor that grows on the surface of the brain and pushes the brain away, according to UCLA Neurosurgery.
“I really pushed to see a neurologist. I just had an instinct. I had to really advocate, because they don’t hand out MRIs so easily. But I got an MRI, and thank God I did, because it turned out I had a very sizable brain tumor in my left frontal lobe,” she continued.
Three days after the MRI test, Walsh was in surgery having the tumor removed, followed by a nine-month recovery process during which the 49-year-old gained a new perspective on her work-life balance.
“I want to be with my friends and family and work on projects that are hugely important to me,” she told Cosmo. “But my health comes first, and I’ve had to change my lifestyle … I know I absolutely need seven or eight hours of sleep. As basic as that sounds, it was a huge part of my recovery.”
In light of this experience, Walsh partnered with health insurance company Cigna on its TV Doctors campaign, which has prominent actors that have played TV doctors — including Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Dempsey and Donald Faison — encouraging Americans to get an annual checkup.
“This was a very private experience for me. I really didn’t want to talk about it, I wanted it to be mine, but I knew that someday I would want to share it,” Walsh said. “When the Cigna campaign came along, I thought it was the perfect marriage.”
Walsh isn’t the only celebrity to recently share her surgery story. In July, TV host Maria Menounos revealed she had a tumor removed in June, but wasn’t going to let it stop her from moving forward with her IVF plans. Both Menounos and Walsh have recovered from their respective treatments and are living full and active lives.