Finding Support to Help You Through Life's Challenges
- “Veep” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus,62, found support through loved ones, including her half-sister and fellow actress Lauren Bowles, 50, after she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. She admitted the diagnosis “terrified” her.
- Louis-Dreyfus underwent six grueling weeks of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy (removal of both breasts) for treatment to help her reach remission.
- When you are diagnosed with cancer, your emotions are likely to be fluid, and that’s normal. Psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik recommends people faced with a significant health crisis, including a cancer diagnosis, lean into their support system, which can be comprised of loved ones. Sometimes, a mental health professional is needed for additional help.
- According to SurvivorNet experts, acknowledging these emotions that come with a diagnosis can be therapeutic and important to the healing process.
Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecologic oncologist at UCLA Health, suggests patients try focusing on the positive and occupying their minds with things that bring them joy – such as laughter – to get through treatment.
“Veep” stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 62, and her half-sister Lauren Bowles, 50, are always there for each other through the good times filled with laughter on the set of “Seinfeld” or “Veep” and during times of struggle such as Dreyfus’ breast cancer battle.
When faced with adversity, having loved ones there to support you helps you physically and emotionally. This is especially true for cancer warriors coping with a diagnosis or navigating treatment.
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The actresses shared an adorable, heartwarming photo while celebrating Thanksgiving together. Dreyfus was all smiles while hugging her sister Lauren, who also donned a smile with the setting sun glowing across their faces.
“My sister and I are taking advantage of the light, per usual. Thanksgiving 2023,” Louis-Dreyfus said in a caption.
Supportive fans of the talented duo chimed in with adoration.
“Sister golden hour photoshoots are a staple in my family,” Instagram user Miss Grey Day wrote.
“I recognize her from the Seinfeld days! I had to look up to be sure. You both look gorgeous,” Instagram user Brook Haertling Grant commented.
Louis-Dreyfus has four sisters, and Lauren is one of them, according to the Washington Post.
The two occasionally shared screentime, including “Seinfeld,” where Louis-Dreyfus’ acting career shot to the moon. Bowles joined her older sister in nine episodes in the ‘90s. The two also co-starred on a few episodes of “Veep.”
Helping Patients Cope with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Why Support Matters
When Julia Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, she was stunned by the news.
“Of course, I did laugh, and then I became hysterical, crying, because I was terrified, as most people are, or as all people are, if they get a diagnosis like that,” she said according to People Magazine.
To help her cope, Louis-Dreyfus leaned on her support system to get through the emotional time which likely included support from her sister Lauren. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, having family and friend support is hugely beneficial. According to New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik, receiving the diagnosis “can be a very overwhelming experience” that requires finding support outside of your usual circles.
WATCH: What to do after a cancer diagnosis?
“Some people don’t need to go outside of their family and friends circle. They feel like they have enough support there,” Plutchik previously told SurvivorNet.
“But for people who feel like they need a little bit more, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional.”
Dr. Plutchik recommends the following three steps for anyone who just found out they had cancer.
Seek additional support if you need it. This might mean speaking to a mental health professional or joining a support group. If needed, find a mental health professional who has experience helping people dealing with things like cancer. Make sure your care team stays connected. Your care team may include your friends, loved ones, therapists, and doctors. Dr. Plutchik also stressed it is important for people supporting cancer warriors to understand their emotions can vary day-to-day. “People can have a range of emotions, including fear and anger, and these emotions tend to be fluid. They can recede and return based on where someone is in the process,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Dr. Charmain Jackman, a licensed psychologist and founder of InnoPsych, echoes SurvivorNet experts on the benefits of positive mental health while facing a health diagnosis.
Dr. Jackman explained, “In the face of a life-threatening diagnosis, fear, hopelessness, and despair can quickly take space in your mind. However, your mindset is a superpower and can be a potent antidote to illness.
Beating Cancer with Laughter
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ cancer journey helped her build resilience. She learned she was facing cancer on one of the biggest nights in her career in 2017.
“I started laughing. Well, because the night before, I had won an Emmy. And so, I came downstairs and…the Emmy was there. It was like on the dining room table. I’m coming down to get coffee. My cell phone rings, and it’s my doctor saying, ‘Guess what, you have cancer,’” Louis-Dreyfus said, according to People.
Dreyfus was stunned by the news she had stage 2 breast cancer.
“Of course, I did laugh, and then I became hysterical, crying, because I was terrified, as most people are, or as all people are, if they get a diagnosis like that,” she said.
Stage 2 breast cancers are either larger than stage 1 tumors or have moved to a few nearby lymph nodes. Treatment will likely be some combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. If chemotherapy is also needed after surgery, the radiation is delayed until the chemo is done. The same approach is taken to hormone receptor and HER2 positive as stage 1.
After her diagnosis, she shared the news publicly on her social media channels to an outpouring of support.
As Louis-Dreyfus bravely fought her breast cancer head-on, she underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy during her treatment. Chemotherapy can cause several side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and hair loss. Your doctor can help you manage some of these side effects. Fortunately for hair loss, while it usually begins about three to four weeks after beginning chemotherapy and continues throughout treatment, it usually regrows after treatment concludes.
WATCH: Helping You Better Understand a Double Mastectomy procedure.
She also underwent a double mastectomy during treatment. During this procedure, both breasts are removed to get rid of cancer. The procedure may also be a preventative measure for women at high risk of developing breast cancer. Afterward, some women decide to have their breasts reconstructed and have implants put in, while others don’t have reconstruction at all.
“A double mastectomy typically takes about two hours for the cancer part of the operation, the removing of the tissue,” Dr. Elisa Port, Chief of Breast Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, tells SurvivorNet.
By October 2018, Louis-Dreyfus announced that she was “cancer-free.” Remarkably, the brave actress is nearing the notable milestone of five years in remission.
What To Ask Your Doctor
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may have questions about keeping your strength through treatment. Here are a few questions to help you begin the conversation with your doctor:
- What treatment will I be receiving?
- What side effects are associated with this treatment?
- Are there steps I can take daily to help minimize these side effects?
- What physical activity routine do you recommend for me during treatment?
- Do you have recommendations for someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy exercise?