Heart of Dixie
- Dixie Carter, who played “Julia Sugarbaker” in the ’80s and ’90s show Designing Women, lost her battle with endometrial cancer 12 years ago at age 70.
- The Southern Belle prided herself on putting family before fame, though she had much success as a Hollywood star.
- Endometrial cancer is a type of uterine cancer, which develops in the lining of the uterus. There are several symptoms that may indicate that a cancer of the uterus has developed, and irregular bleeding is a common one.
The actress, who played “Julia Sugarbaker” in the ’80s and ’90s show—centered around an all-female interior design business—lost her battle with endometrial cancer 12 years ago at age 70. Although she had been living in Beverly Hills, she died in Houston, Texas due to complications from the disease, according to her publicist Steve Rahr,Read More
Carter was survived by her husband Hal Halbrook, the legendary actor who died of old age at 95 just last year, and her two daughters: Mary Dixie Carter and Ginna Carter from her previous marriage to investment banker Arthur Carter.
“This has been a terrible blow to our family,” Holbrook said in a written statement at the time of his wife’s death. “We would appreciate everyone understanding that this is a private family tragedy.”
All About Dixie
Born in Mclemoresville, Tennessee, Carter often represented strong, southern women in the roles that she played. While the family spent most of their time in Los Angeles due to their careers, Carter and Halbrook also kept a home in her hometown as a refuge from Hollywood and the glamorous city’s gossipy types.
“Of course in the South we talk about people too,” Carter admitted in a former interview with the Palm Beach Post. “But if you end your comments with ‘Bless her heart,’ you’re off the hook.”
The Broadway star, who also had memorable TV roles in shows like Diff’rent Strokes and most recently, Desperate Housewives, nobly put family above stardom. “My whole life I had been an actress in spurts because my family is more important to me than anything else,” she said in a 2003 interview.
While she may have popped in and out of acting throughout her career, the University of Memphis alum did wind up winning an Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Guest in a Comedy Series for her Desperate Housewives role.
Understanding Endometrial Cancer
While details of Carter’s battle with cancer are unclear, we can use her story to raise awareness about this lesser known disease and its symptoms. Endometrial cancer is the more common type of uterine cancer, the other being uterine sarcoma, a rarer type.
Uterine cancer develops in the lining of the uterus. There are several symptoms that may indicate that a cancer of the uterus has developed, and irregular bleeding is a really common one. This means bleeding in between periods for pre-menopausal women and unexpected bleeding for post-menopausal women.
There are also several conditions that may predispose someone to getting uterine cancer. “These patients might not be thinking about this, their primary care providers may not be speaking to them about this,” warns Dr. Diana English, a Gynecologic Oncologist at Stanford Medicine. Those conditions are:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (which is marked by the absence of regular periods)
- Hyperandrogenism (elevated male sex hormones)
- Lynch Syndrome (an inherited, incurable disorder)
SurvivorNet spoke with actress Meghan Good—best known for films such as Stomp The Yard, Anchorman 2 and Think Like a Man—who had a brush with uterine cancer, and had to have cancerous cells removed from her uterus a decade ago. The entertainer gave tips for survivors and others going through the day-to-day of life’s sometimes intense challenges.
“I got very intentional about making sure I read my Bible every day, praying every day, meditating every day, speaking affirmations over myself, listening to uplifting music,” Good told us.
“It didn’t scare me,” Good said of her experience. “When people don’t know they have something, they’re fine. When they do find out, they get worse. A lot is attitude. When you’re afraid and freaked out, that’s when it worsens. I try to keep a positive outlook.”
Diet and exercise, and generally trying to stay as healthy as possible, are always key to preventing cancer and other disease. Good has shared that she jogs for 30 minutes several times per week, and also made the choice to cut back on red meat, welcoming more seafood into her diet. “I cut out cheeseburgers all together, and I’m really sad because I love cheeseburgers.”
A cancer scare is not cancer, but it is still overall a scary experience, and the more fortunate who get a warning like Good, often use it as a lesson to change their habits, which overall is a good thing, and sharing her story helps with cancer prevention as well, not to mention a reminder to go get checked.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much awareness for these diseases beyond a decade ago, but we will remember Dixie Carter’s legacy and continue to share her story to educate about uterine cancer.