John Russo/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
10/09/2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
is speaking out about cancer.
"I had ovarian cancer
in 2003. When I went in for a scan last year they found a tumor in my left breast. I wasn't going to fool around; I had a double mastectomy
, "the American Horror Story: Coven
star says in the October issue of AARP The Magazine
"Breast cancer runs like a river through my family. My mother and niece had it; my aunt died of it. Even if you test negative [for genetic mutations that predispose you to cancer] – like I did – you can't assume you're OK,"
As she ages, Bates, 65, says she wishes she wasn't getting older.
"I wish I had legs that were 50 inches long and thin. I'm sorry I had to have my breasts removed. There are lots of things I wish were different, but I have wonderful friends I rely on for my happiness," Bates says. "And I've been blessed with a keen mind and many interests."
But even though her body has changed, she hasn't lost the spark that audiences have fallen in love with.
"We're so fixated on the movie star look that it's been a bit of a struggle to find the kind of roles I would love to do," she explains. "An interviewer once said to me, 'Well, you're not Michelle Pfeiffer.' I thought that was so rude! I told him, 'Well, she's not me.' "