Getting Back to ‘Normal’ After Cancer
- Actor Stanley Tucci is returning to television this year for another season of his show, Searching for Italy, on Sunday, March 13, at 9 p.m.
- Tucci is not only a tongue cancer survivor, but his first wife, Kate Spath-Tucci, died in 2009 after a battle with breast cancer.
- Tucci’s television show signaled an important moment for him: getting back to normal after beating cancer.
The 61-year-old cancer survivor’s show, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, will return to CNN for its second season on Sunday, March 13, at 9 p.m.
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In an interview with CNN last year, Tucci, 61, said that the idea for his show, which was hatched years ago, stems from his Italian heritage; both sets of grandparents came to the United States from the pasta and pizza capital of the world.
“There was so much import put on food and culture in my family, and a great respect for our heritage,” Tucci says of his upbringing, adding that he even spent a year living in Florence in the 1970s when his father decided to take a trip during a sabbatical from his teaching job.
“Then, as I got older, I became more and more interested in the culture of Italy, the history of Italy and its food,” he adds. “This (the show) was an idea I had for many years, then CNN came to me and said, ‘Do you have any ideas for a show?’ and I said, ‘As a matter of fact, yes.’”
Stanley Tucci’s Cancer Ties
Stanley Tucci is not only a cancer survivor, but his first wife, Kate Spath-Tucci, died in 2009 after a battle with breast cancer. She was 47 years old.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Tucci says of his loss, “It’s still hard after 11 years. It’s still hard. And it will always be hard. But you can’t let it. … and she would never want any of us to ever wallow in that grief and let it take over our lives. She would never want that. She wasn’t like that.”
That was not Tucci’s only encounter with cancer. Last year, Tucci revealed that he had battled cancer — tongue cancer — in the past. For two years, the actor’s cancer went undiagnosed. In 2018, he finally got answers and treatment.
He tells NPR, “I was misdiagnosed for two years. I did acupuncture. I tried a whole bunch of different things, and nothing worked. And finally, the tumor became so large that it was quite visible to this one doctor who happened to be a salivary gland guy.”
The tumor was at the base of his tongue, but the pain was widespread. He explains on NPR, “It was at the base of my tongue, but the pain was referred pain up in my jaw at the back of my jaw. So they thought it was a tooth.”
“They thought it was trigeminal neuralgia,” Stanley Tucci says. “They thought it was a million different things, except for what it was, which was cancer.”
Tucci had radiation to treat his cancer, which temporarily destroyed his taste buds. He was forced to use a feeding tube for six months while he had radiation. But now, Stanley Tucci is cancer-free.
Getting Back to ‘Normal’ After Cancer
Stanley Tucci’s television show signaled an important moment for him: getting back to normal after beating cancer. But what does that really mean? We have all been trying to get “back to normal” since March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic began.
However, cancer survivors, like Tucci, once they hear those magic words — “no evidence of disease” — getting back to normal can be difficult. And we are not sure what it means, considering “normal” is different for everyone.
One thing we know for certain is that things are going to change after you have had cancer — that is part of the process. But it does not have to be a bad thing.
After CC Webster was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at 29 years old, she tells SurvivorNet she was struck by the overwhelming anxiety she started to feel.
“In life after cancer, I experienced an entirely new level of anxiety that I didn’t know existed,” Webster says. “Earth-shattering anxiety that makes you sweat, and makes your heart race. I had to learn how to manage myself in that, and how to allow myself to process the trauma that I had just been through.”
Webster says what finally got her back on her feet was facing her anxiety head-on. Eventually, she was able to walk away from her cancer journey with a new outlook on life, something Stanley Tucci, and every other cancer survivor, can relate to.
Contributing: Anne McCarthy