Kathy Griffin Reveals Battle With Addiction and Suicidal Ideation, Recovering From Lung Cancer Surgery

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Kathy Griffin is in recovery, after undergoing surgery for lung cancer.

Griffin revealed on Monday morning that she has been diagnosed with stage one lung cancer and would be undergoing surgery to have her left lung removed. Shortly following her personal announcement, a representative for Griffin told Variety on Monday afternoon that the comedian is out of surgery, which went well and as planned, and that she is resting.

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“I’ve got to tell you guys something. I have cancer. 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!” Griffin wrote on her Twitter and Instagram accounts Monday morning. “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.”

Griffin said her recovery should take about a month, and she added that she is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less. It’s been a helluva four years, trying to get back to work, making you guys laugh and entertaining you, but I’m gonna be just fine. Of course I am fully vaccinated for Covid. The consequences for being unvaccinated would have have been even more serious,” she added. “Please stay up to date on your medical check ups. It’ll save your life. XXOO, KG.”

Referenced in her post, Griffin faced backlash for criticizing former President Donald Trump during his four-year administration, including posting a gory photo with his severed head in 2017.

Following her surgery on Monday, Griffin appeared in a pre-taped interview on ABC News’ “Nightline,” which was filmed last week, to discuss her battle with lung cancer, along with her dark chapter with addiction.

In the interview, Griffin said that after the Trump scandal, her career suffered and she received such severe backlash, including death threats, that she entered a dark time in her life, becoming addicted to painkillers and even attempted suicide.

After the controversy where she held up a bloodied mask bearing Trump’s likeness, Griffin was deemed to have gone too far, and she faced major fallout. She was fired from CNN’s “New Year’s Eve Live,” her scheduled comedy tour dates were canceled and Anderson Cooper tweeted that he was “appalled” by the photo shoot, calling it “clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.”

“Whether I like it or not, I think I’m a resilient survivor,” Griffin told anchor Juju Chang on “Nightline” on Monday night. Griffin then explained how she became addicted to painkillers.

“I thought, ‘Well, I don’t even drink … Big deal, I take a couple pills now and again, who doesn’t?’” Griffin said in the television interview. “Also, my age was a big part of it. I mean, who bottoms out and tries to take their life at 59? It’s almost a joke, right, and by the way, someday, this will all be comedy. Trust me … I was laughing to stay alive. And what I found is I felt like if I can’t make others laugh, then there’s no purpose for me to live. There’s no reason for me to live.”

The comedian continued: “The irony is not lost on me that, a little over a year ago, all I wanted to do was die. And now, all I wanna do is live.”

Following the broadcast of her ABC News interview, Griffin took to Twitter. Giving an update on her successful surgery, she shared an image of her recovery keychain, and noted the difficulty of opening up in a TV interview, while thanking her fans for their support.

I was very nervous about opening up on ‘Nightline’ re my suicidal ideations and my prescription pill addiction,” Griffin tweeted. “This keychain means the world to me. One day at a time.”

On “Nightline,” Griffin said that after her suicide attempt, she got in touch with a doctor and her husband helped her get treatment — she went to a hospital where she was placed on a psychiatric hold, and after being released, she worked with two clinicians who helped her start her recovery.

Griffin shared that after she was in recovery and did not have pills to numb any physical pain, she started to notice that something was off. When she went to the doctor, they found that a pre-existing mass on her lung had doubled in size.

“I’ve had it for a long time. And it gets X-rayed every three years and hasn’t grown…Well, this time, it grew,” Griffin said in the interview. “I was definitely in shock. 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 shit? Is this a bitch or what.”

Today, Griffin is one year sober, but says she will always consider herself an addict. Her lung cancer had not spread, at the time the enlarged mass was found, and she is grateful that it was discovered during stage one.

Fans and celebrities showed their support for Griffin on social media. Actor Caroline Rhea commented on Griffin’s Instagram post, “Sending you lots of love Kathy,” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Shangela wrote “Sending you lots of love sister.”

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