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The 'Harry Potter' actress battled breast cancer while she was working on the classic films. Find out more about her health and how she's doing now.
Dame Maggie Smith inspired so many people with her role as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies, but some fans may be surprised to learn that she battled breast cancer as she was working on the movies. The beloved British actress, 88, seems to have made a full recovery, and she continues to act to this day. Find out more about Maggie’s battle with cancer, and how she’s doing now here.
Maggie revealed that she’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2009 in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. While she didn’t say much about her diagnosis, she did admit that after undergoing chemotherapy, she was anxious about returning to live theater performances. “I’m not sure I could go back to theatre work, although film work is more tiring,” she said. “I’m frightened to work in theatre now. I feel very uncertain. I haven’t done it for a while.”
She admitted that discovering she had cancer in her 70s “knocks you sideways.” She revealed that she was very frightened upon learning. “It kind of takes the wind out of your sails, and I don’t know what the future holds, if anything. I don’t think there’s a lot of it, because of my age — there just isn’t. It’s all been. I’ve no idea what there will be,” she said.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women, but it can appear in both sexes. There has been much support for breast cancer awareness, leading to tons of campaigns dedicated to early detection and treatment, per The Mayo Clinic. Some symptoms include a lump in the breast, changes in appearance to the breast (including an inverted nipple), and peeling skin over the breast. Breast cancer can be inherited through genes, and other factors such as age, drinking alcohol, and more can increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with it. There are also preventative surgeries and medications for people with a high likelihood of breast cancer.
Maggie revealed that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump in 2008. “I had been feeling a little rum. I didn’t think it was anything serious because years ago I felt a lump and it was benign,” she said in the aforementioned interview. She also said that it took “longer to recover.”
Maggie revealed that she had been sick while filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. She said that she was hairless and felt “horribly sick” from chemotherapy. At the time, she did vow to keep working through the subsequent two Harry Potter films that were coming up.
Despite “staggering through” Harry Potter, Maggie appears to be doing much better over 15 years later. By 2009, it had been reported that she’d made a full recovery. Now 88, Maggie has slowed down in terms of the number of roles she’s taken, but she’s kept up working over the years. Shortly after the final installment in the Harry Potter saga, she also starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. She was also critically acclaimed for her role as Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey, and she reprised her part for the 2019 and 2022 movies. Most recently, she starred in the 2023 film The Miracle Club.