Sharon Stone prepared some remarks in return for receiving the Courage Award Thursday night during the Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s An Unforgettable Evening fundraiser. But she didn’t seem to need help delivering a speech that brought her to tears at times and ended with a standing ovation.
“I brought a few notes tonight,” Stone said from the podium inside the Four Seasons’ Beverly Wilshire ballroom. “I usually just talk off the cuff because as you know I don’t care.”
The line drew plenty of laughs from an audience 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 by performing 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 saying, “What makes you a shining star to me is not only your talent, your beauty and your grace, but your resilience no matter what life throws at you. Thank you for rose up, time and time again, and inspired us all by your shining example.”
The Oscar-nominated actress used her time on stage to pay her respects 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 shine a light on life’s examples of courage by asking breast cancer survivors to stand and be recognized. She also spent time describing her own past health challenges.
“Those mammograms are no fun,” she explained. “And to someone like me who was told I had breast cancer because I had a tumor bigger than my breast and they were sure I couldn’t possibly have a tumor without it being cancer. It wasn’t. But I went to the hospital and said, ‘If you open me up and it’s cancer, please take both of my breasts,’ because I’m not a person defined by my breasts. You know it might seem funny coming from me since you’ve all seen them.”
Not only that, she added that “You’ve all seen them 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 have surgery because it doesn’t matter. I’m standing here telling you that I had one and a half and more tissues removed from my breasts and none of you knew.”
Per Stone’s Memoirs, The beauty of living twicethe 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 a “wrong procedure” that left her with worsening pain. As a result, she obtained a second opinion and found 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 the evening’s event after receiving her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. “They told her she’s going to lose her hair in a week, so tonight before we got my hair done we picked out her hats, her beanies, her washcloths, her lipsticks and made sure it would look good out, and she wanted a way to deal with it. And it was really fun. Really fun.”
Then she became serious. Stone broke down in tears as she tried to rally the audience to give more money in an impassioned performance that recalled her decades of activism raising money for HIV/AIDS and other causes on behalf of organizations such as amfAR.
“I know figuring out how to write the money is hard. I’m a technical idiot, but I can write a check. And right now, it’s also courage, because I know what’s going on. I just lost half my money to this bank thing and that doesn’t mean I’m not here,” Stone said.
While she did not elaborate on the specific “banking thing” that caused her loss, her remarks come on the heels of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and resulting volatility in financial markets. Bank shares have been hit and broader markets rattled with fear over the situation, even as regulators moved to contain the fallout from the bank’s collapse and avoid a domino effect. US President Joe Biden told investors earlier this week that their money was safe, saying: “No loss will be borne by the taxpayer.” He also sought 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 have deposit accounts at these banks can breathe easy knowing that they will be able to pay their workers and pay their bills, and their hard-working employees can also breathe easier.”
Stone then referred to the death of his brother, Patrick Stone, last month at the age of 57 from heart disease.
“My brother just died, and that doesn’t mean I’m not here. It is not an easy time for any of us. It’s a tough time in the world, but I tell you what, I don’t have any politicians telling me what I can and can’t 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 are worth. I challenge you. That is what courage is.”