While the holidays are all about spending it with your loved ones, many people also take a moment to help others — and Kathy Bates is doing just that by trying to find a cure to lymphedema.

“It’s been great to help people in the real world, and we’re hoping to find a cure, the 71-year-old exclusively told Closer Weekly while attending the 13th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute. “Keep hoping we’ll find a cure within the next five years, so fingers crossed.” The actress has been dealing with her own bout with lymphedema as a result of having a double mastectomy.

“The real people, the 10 million in this country who are suffering from lymphedema who don’t have any help and who are not being diagnosed in time for a disease that’s progressively incurable,” the Oscar winner added, after being asked what truly inspires her.

Kathy bates
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Kathy has touched on her health in the past, especially her two battles with cancer — breast  and ovarian. “Cancer teaches you to value every moment,” the Hollywood star told Closer exclusively at the WebMD Health Hero Awards in New York City on January 15, while reflecting on her journey “If you can hold on to that aspect of being a cancer survivor, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. I’m grateful it’s given me a chance to use my celebrity to help people.”

During the tough times, “you value your friends,” she continued. “One of the things I love about technology is it’s so much easier to stay in touch with friends and people in your life that you would otherwise lose contact with.” While Kathy is open about her battle today, she did once reveal that she wishes she wouldn’t have been as private at the time.

Kathy bates
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“If I had to go through it again, I wouldn’t be so private,” the A-lister explained. “Being at different cancer functions since then and seeing women with bald heads, brave enough to be there and be themselves, was very moving to me.”

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