Later Life Metamorphosis: Communication Is Cool
- Happy Days alum Henry Winkler, a.k.a. “The Fonz” is crediting Sylvester Stallone with helping him bring his iconic character to life for the hit 1970s TV series that made him a star
- Speaking more about life behind the scenes as of late, Winkler has also become more candid about his personal life, publicly taking responsibility for not being supportive enough for his wife of 45 years during her breast cancer battles
- Crediting his growth to therapy, Winkler’s story reminds us how essential it is for personal evolvement
- In any stage of life, communicating your feelings is always a good idea, and especially when going through cancer, says Dr. Marianna Strongin to SurvivorNet. For couples navigating the challenge, it can be vital.
Speaking on his Happy Days role, the actor, 78, dished on the inspiration behind his smooth-talking, leather-jacket wearing on-screen persona from the hit 1970s sitcom during an appearance on The Jennifer Hudson Show.Read More
Personal GrowthIn addition to divulging his industry secrets, Winkler has also become more candid about his personal life and sharing how challenging times have helped his personal growth.
Like too many others, the award-winning actor, 78, who still graces the small screen on the hit show Barry, has had cancer affect his life.
His wife of 45 years, Stacey Weitzman, 65, has gone through breast cancer twice, and Winkler has recently spoken out saying he wasn’t as supportive as he could have been.
“I went to her chemotherapy infusions, but my support consisted of falling asleep in the chair…I was not there. I’m not proud of that,” he said in a September interview with AARP. He also said he kept acting rather than staying by her while she recovered.
After Weitzman got through it and presented with no evidence of disease, Winkler said he began working on himself, admitting that he never dealt with certain childhood traumas.
“I had covered that up with a Chernobyl-like layer of cement and let it sit…I’ve spent years diffing in, jackhammering that cement into small pieces,” he shared.
Discussing his therapy journey with PEOPLE the following month, he said if he were to “give a gift” to his therapist, “I would have to give her something as big as a skyscraper.”
Communication Is Vital
In any stage of life, communicating your feelings is always a good idea, and especially when going through cancer, says Dr. Marianna Strongin to SurvivorNet. For couples navigating the challenge, it can be vital.
Strongin says that people going through cancer should “surround [themselves] with individuals who care and support [them]” throughout treatment.
When speaking to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, it can be challenging to figure out how to approach the subject supportively and respectfully. Dr. Strongin urges to speak from your heart and try to understand what the other person is going through.
“Going through [cancer] treatment is a very vulnerable and emotionally exhausting experience,” Dr. Strongin says. “Noticing what you have strength for and what is feeling like too much [is] extremely important to pay attention to as you navigate treatment.”
Mental Health & Cancer
Your mental health affects how you think, feel, and behave. Certain triggers like stress, traumatic events, or changes in your physical health can affect your mental health.
For cancer patients, a diagnosis undoubtedly impacts their mental health. If you are diagnosed with cancer or other chronic disease, you should be mindful of your mental health because it can affect your overall prognosis.
“For long-term mental health and living with cancer, flexibility is really at the core of how to manage long-term mental health,” says New York-based psychologist Dr. Samantha Boardman to SurvivorNet.
Dr. Boardman encourages gaining more self-awareness to monitor how you handle stressful situations.
“Are your coping strategies in the way that you’re using them now? Are they as effective as they were in the past?” Dr. Boardman asks. “Take a look at your beliefs. Do you have any fixed beliefs that are counterproductive and are impeding you from taking positive steps?”
Recording your notes in a journal or on your phone may help decipher some of those internal feelings and can serve as an easy reference for when you do hopefully consult with a professional.