Actress Catherine Bell beat thyroid cancer to become TV star

Catherine Bell is an actress, wife and the mother of her second child. The starlet has appeared on hit television shows such as Sugar and Spice, JAG and, most recently, Army Wives. However, Bell's toughest role is that of cancer survivor.

At the age of 19, Bell received a diagnosis of thyroid cancer, Lifetime reports. She had a lump on her neck that a close relative noticed. After going to the doctor, Bell received the news that she had a malignant tumor that required immediate surgery. What frightened her the most was the riskiness of the thyroidectomy.

"If the surgeon cuts one millimeter in the wrong direction, it can sever your vocal cords," Bell told Lifetime.

The surgery was a success, which was confirmed by a relieved sigh from Catherine as she was wheeled into the recovery room, according to the news source. But the impact of the experience went far beyond the physical.

"It completely changed my priorities. It forced me to figure out who I was and what I wanted," said Bell, quoted by Lifetime.

She has taken thyroid hormone ever since and gets yearly cancer screenings. Rather than dwell on her misfortune, Bell made a pact with herself to do something great with her life. That's when the former University of California, Los Angeles premed student got serious about pursuing acting, enrolling in classes and searching for work.

Today, Bell participates in charity work for the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, thyroid cancer is much more likely to occur in women and those who are between the ages of 20 and 55.