How Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Star Cobie Smulders, 40, Beat An Aggressive Ovarian Cancer?

Published Apr 18, 2022

Marisa Sullivan

Beating Aggressive Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed At Age 25

  • Actress and ovarian cancer survivor Cobie Smulders, 40, will be reprising her role of “Maria Hill” in Marvel’s highly-anticipated Secret Invasion series, which will stream on Disney+.
  • The Vancouver-born actress was diagnosed with the disease at age 25—and after multiple surgeries for a couple of years—has thankfully been in remission for 12 years.
  • Ovarian cancer symptoms are hard to pinpoint early, so being ultra aware of your body—and noting symptoms like persistent bloating or pressure in the belly—is crucial, as is getting in immediately to see your doctor for anything that lasts more than a couple of weeks.

Actress and cancer survivor Cobie Smulders, 40, will be reprising her role of “Maria Hill” in Marvel’s Secret Invasion series. Her character is a highly trained fighter, much like the ovarian cancer slayer is off-screen, as Smulders has been in remission from the disease for 12 years now.

“I had tumors on both ovaries,” Smulders told Women’s Health in a 2015 interview, “and the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes and surrounding tissues.”

The Canadian actress—who resides in Pacific Palisades, Calif. with her husband, former Saturday Night Live star Taran Killam, and their two children—celebrated her 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago. “The Big 4-0” is a big milestone for most, but especially for cancer survivors, who typically don’t sweat turning another year older!



Once a candidate on the short list for Wonder Woman, the How I Met Your Mother star’s career has continued to soar, and fans are excitedly waiting for Invasion to come to life. The Disney+ serieswhich does not yet have a release date—also stars legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, The Crown‘s Olivia Colman, and Bloodline bad boy Ben Mendelshon.

Cobie’s Ovarian Cancer Battle

Smulders was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 at age 25, which is extremely young, as this disease typically occurs in post-menopausal women. Ovarian cancer is typically treated with chemotherapy and surgery. Unfortunately, Smulders underwent many surgeries over the course of a couple of years. Left with one third of an ovary, she was even told she would not be able to have children naturally. Smulders not only proved the doctors wrong once with her first child, but twice with her second!

Smulders met her husband well before her diagnosis at age 22, and they married in Solvang, Calif. in 2012.



Despite the incredibly positive outcomes and being extremely grateful for her family, Smulders admitted that she will never feel she is “cancer-free.”

Related: Cobie Smulders – An Ovarian Cancer Survivor – Says Her Struggles Helped Her Take On a Complex Role in ‘Stumptown’

“I think that going through [cancer] has made me a better person, a better mother, certainly able to tap into things in terms of creating characters, but I think the general overall gift — if cancer can give you a gift — is being grateful for being here,” she reflected in a 2019 interview with USA Today.

Do I Have Ovarian Cancer and What is the Initial Treatment?

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Ovarian cancer symptoms are typically subtle. And as such, the disease has been called “the cancer that whispers,” due to its hard-to-spot symptoms, according to Dr. Beth Karlan, a Gynecologic Oncologist at UCLA Medical Center. Smulders said that she felt “pressure and bloating” in her stomach for months and thankfully finally visited a doctor.

Related: Former College Cheerleader Reinvents Herself After Surviving Ovarian Cancer

“The symptoms include things like feeling full earlier than you usually would when your appetite is strong,” Dr. Karlan told SurvivorNet. Some signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate

Ovarian Cancer Warning Signs Can Be Subtle

If any combination of these symptoms occur for over a couple of weeks, be sure to contact doctor and schedule an appointment.


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