Kate Walsh Opens Up About Her Secret Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Kate Walsh
(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

When most fans think of Kate Walsh, they think Dr. Addison Montgomery, bad-a** surgeon on the shows Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.

Yet, Walsh was on the receiving end of huge health scare at one point, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. According to her interview with Cosmopolitan, Walsh started to feel more exhausted than normal at first.

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“I had been working insane hours, maybe 80 hours a week, and also working out really hard, so I wasn’t surprised,” Walsh said.

Yet, it continued to get worse. Her pilates instructor noticed she was dipping on her right side, and soon she realized she was driving to far to the right, and that she struggled to finish sentences. Two years later, the lemon-sized benign meningioma is gone, and Walsh is speaking out on why going to the doctor is so important as part of the TV Doctors campaign for Cigna, along with Patrick Dempsey, Neil Patrick Harris, and Donald Faison.

Walsh knew something was wrong when her cognitive abilities started to suffer.

“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,” Walsh explained. She continued saying that she had an instinct that something was seriously wrong, and pushed for the MRI.

“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 recalled. “Three days later I was in surgery having it removed.”

Even though it was a scary diagnosis, Walsh was just relieved to know something was wrong, and that it was going to be fixed. She took nine months off after the surgery to recover, before jumping into projects such as the movie Felt, Girls Trip and 13 Reasons Why, plus a play in New York. Yet, she knows now not to over-do it.

“I want to be with my friends and family and work on projects that are hugely important to me, and fun, and that make a cultural contribution,” she said. “But my health comes first, and I’ve had to change my lifestyle.” She contributes sleeping 7-8 hours a day as a crucial key to her recovery, and no longer tries to work 17 hours a day.

For Walsh this was a huge wake-up call, and is part of the reason for why she joined the Cigna campaign. Her biggest medical advice is the simplest.

“Go see a doctor!” she said. “We should go get a checkup the same way we go to the gym, just preventively, instead of waiting for something to go wrong.”

Even though she doesn’t think she was quite as tough as her counterpart Addison, Walsh is doing a very brave thing by sharing her story. Hopefully, it pushes more people to get check-ups, especially if they feel like something is really wrong.

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