Olivia Munn opens up about 'terrifying' cancer battle, praises John Mulaney as an 'incredibly hands-on father'

“When I’m with him, it’s the only time my brain doesn’t think about being sick,” Munn said of their 2-year-old son, Malcolm.

Olivia Munn is opening up about her yearlong battle with cancer — and the loved ones who helped her through it.

“I was not someone who obsessed over death or was afraid of it in any way,” Munn told PEOPLE in a new cover story. “[But] having a little baby at home made everything much more terrifying.”

The Newsroom actress said she was shocked in May 2023 to be diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer after tests revealed she had Luminal B — a fast-growing, aggressive cancer — in both breasts. At the time, the 43-year-old actress and comedian was weeks away from shooting a new sci-fi film in Germany, and had welcomed her son Malcolm with her partner, John Mulaney, just two years before.

“You realize cancer doesn’t care who you are; it doesn’t care if you have a baby or if you don’t have time,” she said, reflecting on the diagnosis. “It comes at you, and you have no choice but to face it head-on.”

<p>Kevin Mazur/VF24/WireImage </p> John Mulaney and Olivia Munn

Kevin Mazur/VF24/WireImage

John Mulaney and Olivia Munn

Munn, who underwent several surgeries and a rigorous treatment plan, credits both Mulaney and their son for keeping her positive.

“It would’ve felt like climbing an iceberg without him,” Munn said of having the comedian's support. “I don’t think he had a moment to himself, between being an incredibly hands-on father and going to and from the hospital — taking Malcolm to the park, putting him to nap, driving to Cedars-Sinai, hanging out with me, going home, putting Malcolm to bed, coming back to me. And he did it all happily.”

Of their son, she added, “When I’m with him, it’s the only time my brain doesn’t think about being sick. I’m just so happy with him. And it puts a lot of stuff into perspective. Because if my body changes, I’m still his mom. If I have hot flashes, I’m still his mom. If I lose my hair, I’m still his mom. That’s really what matters the most to me. I get to be here for him.”

At the recommendation of her medical team, Munn had a double mastectomy to remove all of the cancer detected and reduce future risk. “There’s so much information, and you’re making these huge decisions for the rest of your life,” Munn said. “I really tried to be prepared, but the truth is that nothing could prepare me for what I would feel like, what it would look like, and how I would handle it emotionally. It was a lot tougher than I expected.”

<p>JC Olivera/Getty </p> Olivia Munn

JC Olivera/Getty

Olivia Munn

Munn waited until early fall to undergo her reconstructive surgery, giving her body time to heal — and all the while kept her journey away from the public eye. “Keeping it private for as long as I did allowed me time to fight without any outside noise at all,” she said. Munn publicly opened up about her cancer battle nearly a year after her diagnosis, in March 2024.

While her treatment plan has not required chemotherapy or radiation, Munn did begin hormone suppression therapy, which has put her into medically induced menopause. The actress is taking the symptoms — which include hot flashes and thinning hair — in stride, adding that she is determined to raise awareness for other women at risk of breast cancer.

“I feel grateful that I was given the opportunity to fight,” Munn said.

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