Sharon Stone prepared some remarks to offer in return for receiving the Courage Award on Thursday night during the Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s (WCRF) An Unforgettable Evening fundraiser. But she didn’t seem to need any help in delivering a speech that, at times, had her in tears and ended with a standing ovation.
“I brought a couple of notes tonight,” said Stone from the podium inside the Four Seasons’ Beverly Wilshire ballroom. “I usually just speak off the cuff because, as you well know, I don’t give a shit.”
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The line drew lots of laughter from a crowd that included Rebel Wilson, Nia Vardalos, Rachel Zoe, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, Julianne Hough, Chord Overstreet, Maria Bello and Dominique Crenn, Kathy and Rick Hilton, Lori Loughlin, Olivia Jade Giannulli, Paul Wesley and NJ Falk. Rockers Maroon 5 closed the show with a set of their biggest hits in a performance they donated to the night’s cause.
Gala chair Jamie Tisch presented Stone with the trophy by saying, “what makes you a shining star, to me, is not just your talent, your beauty and your grace but your resilience no matter what life throws your way. Thank you for rising up, time and time again, and inspiring all of us by your radiant example.”
The Oscar-nominated actress used her time on stage to pay respect to the night’s other honorees, Hero Award recipients Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson and Richard J Stephenson, encourage attendees to open their pocketbooks even more to benefit WCRF, and to shine a light on living examples of courage by asking breast cancer survivors to stand and be recognized. She also spent time detailing her own prior health challenges.
“Those mammograms are not fun,” she explained. “And for someone like me who was told that I had breast cancer because I had a tumor that was larger than my breast and they were sure that I couldn’t possibly have a tumor without it being cancer, it wasn’t. But I went to the hospital, saying, ‘If you open me up and it’s cancer, please take both my breasts,’ because I am not a person defined by my breasts. You know, that might seem funny coming from me since you’ve all seen ‘em.”
Not only that, she added that “you’ve all seen ‘em since the surgery and you don’t even know it. So don’t ever feel compelled not to get a mammogram, not to get a blood test, not to get surgery because it doesn’t matter. I’m standing here telling you I had one-and-a-half and more tissue of my breasts removed and none of you knew it.”
Per Stone’s memoir, The Beauty of Living Twice, the actress underwent breast reconstruction surgery in 2001 after doctors removed benign tumors that she writes were “gigantic, bigger than my breasts alone,” according to People. More recently, Stone revealed last November that she was misdiagnosed and had an “incorrect procedure” that left her with worsening pain. As a result, she fielded a second opinion and found out that she had “a large fibroid tumor” that also required surgery.
From the stage, Stone also explained that her hairstylist arrived to do her hair for tonight’s event after receiving her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. “They told her that she will lose her hair in a week, so tonight before we did my hair, we picked out her hats, her beanies, her do-rags, her lipsticks and made sure that it was going to look great and she was going to have some way to deal with it. And that was really fun. Really fun.”
Then she got serious. Stone broke down in tears as she tried to rally the crowd to give more money in a passionate showing reminiscent of her decades of activism in raising money for HIV/AIDS and other causes on behalf of organizations like amfAR.
“I know that thing that you have to get on and figure out how to text the money is difficult. I’m a technical idiot, but I can write a fucking check. And right now, that’s courage, too, because I know what’s happening. I just lost half my money to this banking thing, and that doesn’t mean that I’m not here,” said Stone.
Though she didn’t elaborate on the specific “banking thing” that caused her losses, her remarks come on the heels of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and resulting financial markets volatility. Banking stocks have been hit and broader markets rattled by fears over the situation even after regulators moved to contain the fallout of the bank’s collapse and avoid a domino effect. U.S. President Joe Biden told investors early this week that their money was safe, saying: “No losses will be borne by the taxpayers.” He also attempted to reassure Americans “that the banking system is safe,” adding, “Your deposits will be there when you need them. Small businesses across the country that deposit accounts at these banks can breathe easier knowing they’ll be able to pay their workers and pay their bills, and their hard-working employees can breathe easier as well.”
Stone then referenced her brother, Patrick Stone, who died last month at age 57 due to heart disease.
“My brother just died, and that doesn’t mean that I’m not here. This is not an easy time for any of us. This is a hard time in the world, but I’m telling you what, I’m not having some politician tell me what I can and cannot do. How I can and cannot live, and what the value of my life is and is not. So stand up. Stand up and say what you’re worth. I dare you. That’s what courage is.”