Kate Walsh Reveals She Secretly Battled a Brain Tumor Two Years Ago

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Before Kate Walsh started playing Olivia Baker on 13 Reasons Why she was known for portraying Dr. Addison Montgomery on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice for almost a decade. Not even her extensive on-screen medical training could prepare her for the news she received in 2015, however — she had a brain tumor.

The 49-year-old actress told Cosmopolitan magazine that in January 2015, she started noticing weird symptoms, including exhaustion.

“I had been working insane hours, maybe 80 hours a week, and also working out really hard, so I wasn’t surprised,” she said. “I figured, okay, I’ll change up my workout routine, I’ll go back to mellow stuff like hiking.”

Nothing worked. Her Pilates instructor then noticed that her right side was dipping, she began swerving to the right when she was driving, and she had a hard time forming sentences. That June, she was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor called a meningioma.

She explained, “I got an MRI and thank God I did, because it turned out I had a very sizable brain tumor in my left frontal lobe. And three days later I was in surgery having it removed.”

Kate says she “left [her] body” when she got her diagnosis.

“The words ‘brain tumor’ were never in my zeitgeist. I went in for the MRI, and you know it’s serious when they don’t even wait, they’re like ‘Hey, the radiologist wants to see you.’ And she starts to say, ‘Well, it looks like you have a very sizable brain tumor’ — and I just left my body. My assistant had driven me there, and I had to go get him so that he could take notes, because I was gone. It was never anything I would have imagined.”

By the time she was diagnosed, the lemon-sized tumor was already causing quite a bit of damage.

“There was a lot of swelling, and I had started getting shooting pains in my head,” she recalled. “I shattered my pinkie the night before my MRI, because I had no depth perception. It was crazy. The whole situation was so overwhelming, and I was just so relieved to know there was something wrong, that it wasn’t just my imagination and that my instincts were correct.”

The actress “took about nine months off” following the surgery, but when she returned she “hit [the entertainment industry] hard.”

While Kate didn’t want to tell anyone about her experience for a long time, she decided that now is a good time to speak out because she wants to encourage people to ask for help when they know something is wrong.

“It can be especially hard for women to take time out for their health — you’re mothers, you’’re career women, you’re spinning all of these plates, and it’s hard sometimes to hand over the superwoman cape and ask for help.”