At age 25, Cobie Smulders was riding the success of her hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother‘s third season. But privately, she was fighting a secret battle: The actress had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“I had tumors on both ovaries,” Smulders, now 33, reveals in the May issue of Women’s Health, “and the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes and surrounding tissues.”
For the next couple of years, she underwent many surgeries to remove the cancerous tissue in her body. She was left with one third of an ovary and was told she would never be able to get pregnant naturally.
The doctors were wrong: She went on to welcome two children with husband Taran Killam. Still, she says, “I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’m cancer-free.”
“Now that I’m five years out, I’m trying to think of it as a positive thing and what can I learn from it,” the Avengers: Age of Ultron star tells the magazine. “And if I can create more awareness, I’ll do it.”
The American Cancer Society projects that more than 21,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, making it the fifth most deadly cancer among women.