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Don’t Personalize Kate Middleton’s Cancer Diagnosis

Many with health anxiety get anxious when a high-profile person has a disease.

Key points

  • People with health anxiety can be susceptible to feeling anxious when a high-profile person has an illness.
  • Validating your feelings and doing a reality check can help address health anxiety.
  • There may be a silver lining if it leads people to have regular doctors' check-ups and health screenings.
Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Is Kate Middleton's cancer diagnosis making you worry that maybe you, too, have cancer?

It is common for people with health anxiety to get triggered when they hear about a high-profile person's medical problems, especially when it is someone young, like Kate Middleton. People might even suddenly start to feel symptoms that they didn't experience before they knew of her illness, which can trigger even more anxiety.

The good news is that her health problems have absolutely no impact on your health.

Reasons for This Phenomenon

For someone prone to health anxiety, there is likely a part of you that is on alert for things that confirm your anxiety. For example, you could feel a weird body symptom, and that could trigger an onset of health anxiety.

Or, when someone you know or if a high-profile person has an illness or dies, it triggers that part of you that's on alert for health issues. It's almost as if you see a sign that says, "This could happen to you, so be on the lookout!"

In fact, research has shown that people with health anxiety tend to pay more attention to threatening health information than those who do not experience it.

Mothers of young children might feel particularly anxious after hearing about Kate Middleton, as they might identify with that aspect of her identity. I often see mothers of younger children in my practice who worry about something happening to them and fear the impact on their children.

What to Do if This News Makes You Anxious

If you find that Kate Middleton's diagnosis is making you anxious, you can do the following:

  1. Validate yourself. You can tell yourself that it makes sense that this news makes you anxious, particularly if you have health anxiety.
  2. Give yourself a reality check. Remind yourself that just because Kate Middleton has cancer, it doesn't mean anything about your health. Your chances of cancer did not just go up because of her diagnosis.
  3. Try not to overfocus on your body's symptoms. Try not to overfocus on your body's symptoms. The more you focus on your body, the more sensations you will feel. You can practice redirecting your attention to something outside of yourself. To read more, check out my previous post about this issue.
  4. Take a break from the news and social media. If you find that the news is making you more anxious, take a hiatus from it.
  5. Do something meaningful with your time. Try to find something meaningful or enjoyable to do with your time instead of focusing on your health worries.

A Silver Lining

Some people with health anxiety avoid going to the doctor and avoid necessary health screening appointments (e.g., colonoscopies and mammograms). If Kate Middleton's diagnosis makes people more aware of the importance of these regular check-ups and screenings, then that could be a positive outcome of this news. I wish her and her family well.


Shi, C., Taylor, S., Witthöft, M., et al. (2022). Attentional bias toward health-threat in health anxiety: a systematic review and three-level meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 52(4), 604-613. doi:10.1017/S0033291721005432

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