died on Oct. 15 following a 23-year-long struggle with cancer, PEOPLE confirmed. She was 76.
The actress had been very open about her health struggles over the years, including her 2000 breast cancer diagnosis. She also experienced several other forms of cancer throughout her life.
Her husband, , and son, , supported the actress every step of the way, from her first diagnosis to her final moments.
Here's a complete timeline of Somers’ cancer journey, and what she and her loved ones have said about her experiences with the disease.
While portraying her most iconic character, Chrissy Snow on , Somers said she was treated for cancer three different times.
"Even when I was Chrissy on , I had had cancer three times," Somers told in 2020. "They call it severe hyperplasia in your uterus. I didn't make a big deal about it.
In the same interview, the actress and businesswoman also shared that she had malignant melanoma in her back in her 30s.
In 2001, Somers said on that she had been receiving treatment for breast cancer for a year. The actress explained that doctors discovered the cancer in April 2000 during a routine mammography.
Somers went public with her diagnosis following a tabloid story about her getting liposuction, which sparked a media frenzy because of her partnership with ThighMaster. During the appearance, she confirmed that she did get liposuction after her diagnosis to “even things out.”
“The thing is, my program works,” she said of ThighMaster at the time. “But I did have to have something done to the other part of my body.”
The star also shared that she planned to forgo chemotherapy and treat her cancer with alternative medicine.
"Saying the words publicly out loud — 'I have breast cancer' — rocked my soul," Somers told PEOPLE in 2001.
When she received the initial diagnosis, she and Hamel "were silent, hardly talking, in disbelief, like this can't be happening, wondering is this a little blip or the end of my life?" she recalled.
In the same interview, thebestselling author — who wrote more than 25 books — also looked to the future, and how her cancer diagnosis and experience could help others.
“But now that it's happened, I'm going to turn it into a blessing and gather all the information I can and pass it on, because I realize other women listen to me,” she said at the time.
In 2007, Somers told the that, after treating her cancer with radiation, a lumpectomy and alternative medicine, she was cancer-free.
The actress also told the outlet that she credited much of her entrepreneurial drive to her breast cancer diagnosis.
Somers echoed this sentiment in 2019, telling PEOPLE that her 2000 diagnosis was a “wake-up call” that ultimately , Suzanne Organics.
“I would say one of the greatest gifts I had was getting cancer 20 years ago,” she said. “And you don’t think that the day you hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’ but it was my wake-up call. What am I doing? What am I eating? What’s my lifestyle? What products am I using?”
"I just thought, I’m going to win this my way, I’m going to change my life," Somers added.
She reiterated that her doctors believe her chemical-free, organic lifestyle is what has kept her in tip-top shape in a statement shared with in July 2023.
"My doctors said that if I didn’t lead a chemical-free life, supported by bio-identical hormones, I would not likely be here today," Somers said at the time. "I am so grateful to my fans for all the loving wishes. That means so much to me."
Hamel confirmed this was the case in an interview with at the time, telling the outlet, "All her doctors said if she didn’t lead a chemical-free, organic life supported by bio-identical hormones, she wouldn’t be with us.”
In her book , Somers revealed that she was misdiagnosed with full-body cancer.
"For six days, six doctors confirmed I had inoperable cancer. I went into that valley of fear. I saw my death, it was horrible," Somers said at the time, per .
Before she learned a week later that she had been misdiagnosed, Somers interviewed several doctors on alternative treatments to chemotherapy. She later included that research in her book, which sparked criticism from the American Cancer Society.
"Cancer's an epidemic," the actress said in an October 2009 interview a day before the release of , per . "And yet we keep going back to the same old pot, because it's all we've got. Well, this is a book about options."
"I'm 'us.' I'm not them. I've been on the other side of the bed. And it's powerful to have information," she added.
However, Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society at the time, told NBC News: "I am very afraid that people are going to listen to her message and follow what she says and be harmed by it."
"We use current treatments because they've been proven to prolong life. They've gone through a logical, scientific method of evaluation," Brawley explained. "I don't know if Suzanne Somers even knows there IS a logical, scientific method."
In a heartfelt Instagram post, Somers .
Alongside a photo of herself and Hamel, 87, she wrote, "As you know, I had breast cancer two decades ago, and every now and then it pops up again, and I continue to bat it down. I have used the best alternative and conventional treatments to combat it.”
“This is not new territory for me,” she continued. “I know how to put on my battle gear and I’m a fighter."
In the same post, Somers thanked her husband, family and fans for their unwavering support.
"Alan has been by my side every step of the way,” she wrote. “I can’t even explain how much he has done for me. If it’s even possible, we are even closer than ever. My incredible family has been so supportive, and has helped so much by keeping the business running so you can still have access to all the wonderful products. Thank you for the continued love and support. It’s only about who you love and who loves you — and I love you!"
Somers' son Bruce wrote in the comments, "Been betting on you my entire life! I love you, Mom! And thank you everyone for your kind and thoughtful support and love."
Bruce's wife, Caroline, also expressed her support for her mother-in-law amid her diagnosis: "You are the face of resilience! I will bet on you any day! I love you so much."
Bruce and Caroline's daughter Camelia wrote her grandmother, "THE STRONGEST WARRIOR GODDESS!!!!!!! So proud to be your granddaughter."
Somers also shared a statement to at the time, in which she revealed that she was treated for skin cancer in her twenties before her breast cancer diagnosis.
"I have been living with cancer since my 20s. And every time that little f----- pops up, I continue to bat it back. I do my best not to let this insidious disease control me," she wrote. "It’s a recurrence of my breast cancer. Like any cancer patient, when you get that dreaded 'It’s back,' you get a pit in your stomach."
"My cancer is a disease that affected my whole family and once it hit me in my 20s, Alan and I got even closer and every moment of every day was precious. We have not spent even one day apart in over 42 years. That’s the big upside of my cancer," she continued. "My son refers to our relationship as functionally co-dependent. And my incredible family has been unbelievably supportive every step of the way."
Hamel also opened up about his wife's history with cancer, telling at the time of her diagnosis: "Suzanne has lived with cancer all her life. In her 20s, she’d also dealt with two hyperplasia … which is the waiting room for cancer.”
“She has now dealt with her cancer once again," he shared, adding that "on June 6, she got an all-clear, but cancer is tricky and we will now closely monitor everything going forward.”
Somers died on Oct. 15, 2023, the day before she would have turned 77.
While speaking with PEOPLE about her birthday plans, Hamel revealed that Somers had just completed physical therapy, and praised the resilience she showed throughout her cancer journey.
“Suzanne and I just returned home from the Midwest where Suzanne had six weeks of intensive physical therapy,” the former TV host told PEOPLE. “Even after our five decades together, I still marvel at Suzanne’s amazing determination and commitment.”
Somers' longtime publicist, R. Couri Hay, confirmed her death to PEOPLE in a statement shared on behalf of the actress' family: "Suzanne Somers passed away peacefully at home in the early morning hours of October 15th. She survived an aggressive form of breast cancer for over 23 years."
“Suzanne was surrounded by her loving husband Alan, her son Bruce and her immediate family,” the statement continued. “Her family was gathered to celebrate her 77th birthday on October 16th. Instead, they will celebrate her extraordinary life, and they want to thank her millions of fans and followers who loved her dearly."