Jill Zarin & Mental Health After Losing Someone to Cancer
- Real Housewives alum Jill Zarin, 58, says she is taking steps to care for her mental health after losing her husband Bobby to cancer in 2018.
- He underwent radioactive iodine treatment and had his thyroid removed.
- It’s so important to care for your mental health during your or a loved one’s cancer battle.
The Woodmere, NY, native tells PEOPLE magazine, “I’m medicated now. I suffer from anxiety and partial depression. I didn’t realize it before, but I wound up going to doctor and was prescribed medicine for it.”Read More
Jill Zarin’s Husband’s Bobby’s Thyroid Cancer Journey
The husband and wife team, who married in 2000, were fan favorites on Real Housewives of New York when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009. He underwent radioactive iodine treatment and had his thyroid removed.
In 2013, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs. He underwent more treatment. In November 2016, Jill revealed Bobby had a cancerous brain tumor.
“It’s been a difficult year since his brain tumor diagnosis but ironically that’s not even the issue,” Jill told E! News in July 2018. “His papillary thyroid cancer has morphed into something called anaplastic thyroid cancer. It’s very, very rare.”
Understanding Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer is a malignant tumor of the thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland in the throat that regulates hormones to control the body’s metabolism. Although thyroid cancer is relatively rare, according to the American Thyroid Association there are four types of the disease:
- Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of all thyroid cancers. Papillary thyroid cancer can occur at any age. It tends to grow slowly and spread to lymph nodes in the neck, and generally has an excellent outlook.
- Follicular thyroid cancer makes up about 10% of all thyroid cancers. Follicular thyroid cancer can spread to lymph nodes in the neck, but is more likely than papillary cancer to spread to distant organs, particularly the lungs and bones.
- Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for approximately 2% of all thyroid cancers. Approximately 25% of all medullary thyroid cancer is inherited, and a test for a genetic mutation in the RET proto-oncogene can lead to an early diagnosis and, thus, to curative surgery.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the most advanced and aggressive form of the disease. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is very rare and is found in less than 2% of patients with thyroid cancer. It most commonly occurs in people over the age of 60 years. In some cases it arises in patients who have been diagnosed with papillary or follicular thyroid cancers. While overall survival statistics are discouraging – with an average survival rate of 6 months and approximately 1 in 5 alive after 12 months – it is important to note that there are long-term survivors.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
We love Jill Zarin’s candor around getting support for her mental health. It’s so important to take care of your mind with the same attention you would your body, particularly if you or your loved one is going through a cancer battle.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Scott Irwin, Director, Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, speaks about depression in people battling cancer. He says, “Depression is a really interesting topic, because a lot of people assume that, oh, they have cancer. “They must be depressed. That’s actually not true. 85% of patients do not get what would be considered a clinical depression. 15% do.”
Dr. Irwin continues, “For prescribing medications for depression in the context of cancer, I often try to choose medications with the lowest side effect profile.”
Survivornet reporter Constance Costas contributed to this article.