Jillian Barberie Is Turning Over a New Leaf at 55
- Jillian Barberie turned 55 this week and also celebrated a month of sobriety after deciding to give up booze with some help from her sober friend Heather Locklear.
- It has been three years since the former Good Day LA host won her battle with stage III breast cancer after a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation treatments
- A new bill with joint support in Congress would make mammograms free to all women over the age of 40
The breast cancer survivor celebrated her birthday, and the 55-year-old mom-of-two also celebrated one month sober.Read More
Her decision to make the change is no real surprise to those familiar with the beloved television personality. It is the same mentality she had following her breast cancer diagnosis.
Barberie told SurvivorNet that she was “very radical” and “very aggressive” upon learning she had stage II breast cancer that had already started to metastasize to her lymph nodes.
“I said, ‘I want to schedule a double mastectomy,'” recalled Barberie. She later noted she wanted both removed because she “didn’t want to worry about it.”
Superstar Sobriety Support
Barberie also revealed that she had been getting support along the way from actress Heather Locklear, who has been sober since April 2019.
The Melrose Place alum and Barberie even celebrated their birthdays together this week, as they are just one day apart.
Locklear, who turned 60 this week, posted a photo from that birthday lunch alongside Kristine Carlson, the author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Locklear will be playing the self-help guru in an upcoming Lifetime film.
She has morphed into a bit of a self-help guru herself by showing her support for Barberie while she navigates through her new sober lifestyle.
“You rock, my friend,” wrote Locklear after Barberie’s first sober dinner party.
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Barberie’s sobriety got put to the test on her birthday. The former Good Day LA host admitted that she had to adjust to the idea of celebrating without alcohol, but in the end, she enjoyed being “present” more than having a few drinks.
“Normally, I’d be celebrating my birthday Birthday cake with a French 75 Champaign cocktail. Instead, today, Ruby made me a smoothie!!! My first #sober birthday in I don’t know how long. I’m present and happy #day23,” wrote Barberie on Twitter.
Barberie also shared photos of the roses and cakes, and cards she received on her big day, but a handwritten note from her daughter proved to be the best gift of all in the end.
“I love you so much, and I’m very proud of you for everything you have done,” wrote Barbiere’s 14-year-old daughter Ruby.
“You overcame cancer, got sober, out up with me & Rocco [Barberie’s son]. I love you so much.”
Ruby then added: “It’s been 23 days! I’m so happy for you and know that I love you.”
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Barberie said she had no withdrawals after she stopped drinking and that the only side effect to date has been weight loss.
Things did get a bit tough for her, though just ahead of the one-month mark, as she shared on Twitter.
“Just woke up panicking bc I had a dream that I celebrated one month of sobriety with a glass of champagne, and I had to go back to day one,” wrote Barberie. “Imagine how ppl with 10 years in feel with a slip back. My heart is racing!”
It seems like the decision to get sober is also having a significant impact on Barberie’s career. This week Barberie announced that she had joined Cameo, the site where celebrities will deliver messages to people for a fee.
“I’ve done a few on depression, cancer, anxiety, and some fun ones! I can talk sobriety, Stern, divorce, job loss, adoption and make it a good time!!!!!” said Barberie when announcing the news. “Have a loved one you want to roast? I’m your girl.”
Breast Cancer Warrior and Advocate
It may not pay the bills, but Barberie spends a good deal of her time working as a breast cancer advocate, using her platform to encourage women to get screened and sharing how early detection most likely saved her life.
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The start of Barberie’s breast cancer journey, the screening event she co-hosted in 2018
Barberie now leaves nothing to chance when it comes to her battle with breast cancer and goes to the doctor four times a year to ensure the disease has not spread.
She detailed what those check-ups involved in series of social media posts back in June.
“I go every three months to check white blood cells and do a cancer check. I know it hasn’t spread! Positive thinking is half the battle,” wrote Barberie on Twitter.
She later posted: “Bone density test and bloodwork today! #cancer 3 month check-up. Here we go!!”
Barberie was diagnosed with stage 2 and 3 breast cancer in 2018 during a routine mammogram. Her cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes by the time it was detected, prompting Barberie to take an aggressive approach with her recovery. Two weeks after that mammogram, and at the recommendation of her oncologist, she had a double mastectomy. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed for Barberie.
She told SurvivorNet that she first learned that she might have the disease while co-hosting a breast cancer screening party for friends in Beverly Hills – Mimosas, Mammograms, and Massages.
“I kept getting called back down to the screening room,” says Barberie, who hosts a podcast called Ask Jillian. “The last time I went back, they did a sonogram and said, ‘We just want to look at some things.’” At that point, Barberie says she knew something wasn’t right. “The radiologist said, ‘Please get a biopsy tomorrow.’”
She did just that, and after getting her results, sprang into action.
Barberie acknowledged how “blessed” her journey had been in that interview, stating that she had just one concern through that months-long battle of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation – her children.
“My experience with cancer was not a bad one. The only thing I was concerned about were my kids,” said Barberie.
Barberie then admitted to having one regret.
“Playboy offered four times, and I said no, like an idiot,” said the former NutriSystem spokesperson.
“I would have had something to look at, to remember.”
Women aged 45 and 54 should have annual mammograms; women with a history of breast cancer in their families should begin screening even earlier.
Dr. Connie Lehman, the chief of the Breast Imaging Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, emphasized in an earlier interview how mammograms save lives. She says, “If you haven’t gone through menopause yet, I think it’s very important that you have a mammogram every year. We know that cancers grow more rapidly in our younger patients, and having that annual mammogram can be lifesaving.”
The centers for Disease Control echoes this, stating that women aged 40 to 44 years should have the choice to start breast cancer screening once a year with mammography if they wish to do so, regardless of the reason.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and Senate are getting behind a bill that would protect access to free mammograms for women between the ages of 40 and 49.
The Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act was reintroduced this week by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rep. Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) in the House and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in the Senate.
If passed, the bill would guarantee free mammograms at least once a year to all women 40 and over.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) rates mammograms a C for women in the 40 – 49 age range, meaning that they do not recommend annual screenings. That is at odds with the recommendations of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American College of Radiology/Society for Breast Imaging, and many experts in the field of oncology.
“The notion that breast cancer is a risk only for older people puts young women at risk of not getting a screening that could save their lives. The USPSTF guidelines would exacerbate this problem by discouraging women from getting potentially lifesaving mammograms and putting them at risk of losing insurance coverage for screenings,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz.
“As a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 41, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring young women have access to the tools and information they need regarding their breast health. That is why I am proud to reintroduce the PALS Act with Congressman Upton, which extends the moratorium on these ill-advised guidelines and is supported by leading clinical and advocacy organizations.”
Related: When You’re Getting a Mammogram, Ask About Dense Breasts
“After menopause, it may be perfectly acceptable to reduce that frequency to every two years,” says Dr. Lehman. “But what I’m most concerned about is the women who haven’t been in for a mammogram for two, three, or four years, those women that have never had a mammogram. We all agree regular screening mammography saves lives.”
Doing a Self-Exam at Home
In addition to regular mammogram screenings, women should also do self-exams at home. The American Cancer Society (ACS) says, “Women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and should report any changes to a health care provider right away.”
The National Breast Cancer Foundation says here’s how to do a self-exam at home:
- While standing straight in front of a mirror, place your hands on your hips and look at your breasts for any swelling, bulging, changes in the shape of breast or nipple (inverted), redness, rashes, or any fluid leaking. Then do the same with your arms in the air.
- Next, while lying down, use your right hand to examine your left breast and vice versa while using your first three fingers to apply pressure. Ensure you cover the entire breast area, from your collarbone to below your ribcage and from your armpit to your cleavage area. Do the same self-exam standing or sitting up. Be sure to use light to medium pressure for the middle breast area and firmer pressure when feeling deep breast tissue.