Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Strength Through Adversity
- Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 62, said she suffered a “devastating” miscarriage at age 28, opening up about her experience on her “Wiser Than Me” podcast.
- The mom of two recounted how her mom and her husband Brad Hall helped her as she was “bedridden” after the miscarriage.
- Louis-Dreyfus was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017, showing that she continues to show strength through hard challenges.
- Dealing with any type of battle can be extremely overwhelming. So having a good relationship with a partner can be incredibly helpful.
- MacMillan Cancer Support suggests communication is key when dealing with a loved one who has cancer or has gone through a difficult health struggle. “Try to be yourself and live as normally as possible.”
Now 62, the comedian was just 28 when she lost her pregnancy, something she recently opened up about on her podcast “Wiser Than Me,” created by Lemonada Media.
Read MoreThe “Veep” actress was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2017, nearly 20 years after she and her husband Brad Hall, 65, lost their unborn child.View this post on Instagram
“I got pregnant for the first time and I was crazy happy,” Louis-Dreyfus said at the start of the most recent episode of her podcast with her guest Ruth Reichl, a chef and food writer.
“I got pregnant easily. I felt very fertile, very womanly. And then, quite late in the pregnancy, my husband Brad and I discovered that this little fetus was not going to live.”
Louis-Dreyfus and her husband had been planning to give birth to their firstborn in 1989.
“So that was emotionally devastating as you could imagine, but it got worse because I developed an infection that landed me in the hospital,” she said. “This whole thing was just a complete nightmare.”
The mom of two — who now has two sons, 30-year-old Henry and 25-year-old Charlie — recounted how her mom rushed to be with her after learning the heartbreaking news.
“After a couple of days, I finally got out of the hospital and I came home to recuperate, but I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed yet. I was, as they say, bedridden,” Louis-Dreyfus continued.
“But my mom cooked. She made this incredible, cozy chili in a cast iron skillet with cornbread on top, in the pan. She and my husband Brad set up a little card table at the foot of the bed and the smell of that cornbread and the chili was so wonderful. It just filled the room and the whole house and my heart, really.”
“Because here’s the thing. I couldn’t eat. I wasn’t yet allowed to have solid food. But, it didn’t matter. It was the best meal ever and I didn’t even eat it. The making of it was so comforting, it was so embracing,” she said.
“Food is central to the traditions of my family. … I relate food to my mom, she’s a great cook. This is one of my greatest memories around food, even though it has sort of an odd kicker, really.”
Louis-Dreyfus’ strength is apparent as she experienced such a tragic loss and never lost her ability to see the good things in life, like having her mom and husband set aside a meal while she was recovering, even though she was unable to eat it.
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Understanding Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis
“You hear it all the time, but the people that I relied on the most, besides the very capable doctors and nurses who took care of me, were my family and my close friends,” she said.
“I was surrounded by people who were supporting me. That was hugely meaningful, and I needed it. It helped me to believe I was going to get through.”
Learning About Stage 2 Breast Cancer
To better understand Louis-Dreyfus’ cancer diagnosis, it’s important to discuss what ‘stage’ means for breast cancer patients.
Resilience: Staying Positive Despite Adversity
“Stage really refers to how big a tumor is and how many lymph nodes are involved,” Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
“When a woman has stage 2 breast cancer, it means that the tumor’s probably bigger than 2 cm and/or she has lymph nodes involved,” Dr. Comen said.
“And if she has lymph nodes involved, she probably doesn’t have that many lymph nodes involved. Because if you have more lymph nodes, like 10, 11, 12, then that might be referred to as Stage 3 cancer.”
Relationships and Cancer
Dealing with any type of health battle or pregnancy loss, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus faced alongside her husband, can be extremely overwhelming. So having a good relationship with a partner can be incredibly helpful.
According to MacMillan Cancer Support, communication is key.
“Try to be yourself and live as normally as possible. Behaving differently may make your partner feel more aware of the cancer,” the organization explains.
“It can help to ask your partner what support they would like and find useful. This makes sure you help where it is most wanted and needed. It can also help you avoid misunderstandings.”
Grinding Through Cancer Treatment: Finding The Strength To Keep Going
That being said, the person struggling with their health needs to know their limits on what they can handle as they prioritize their recovery.
“Going through [cancer] treatment is a very vulnerable and emotionally exhausting experience,” licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin previously wrote in a column for SurvivorNet.
“Noticing what you have strength for and what is feeling like too much… [is] extremely important to pay attention to as you navigate treatment,” Dr. Strongin added.
Jill Kargman on Relationships and Cancer
Dr. Strongin said studies show that loneliness can impact a person’s recovery. That’s why surrounding yourself with people, potentially including a partner, who can support you throughout treatment is crucial.
Overcoming adversity can seem daunting. Many people think reciting upbeat mottos or pretending to be cheerful will help, but these solutions can make someone feel even more dejected than before. Instead, pay attention to the following steps to make meaningful change.
1. Set a goal. No matter what the situation, create a new goal for yourself. If you have just been diagnosed with cancer or a chronic illness, perhaps one goal would be to educate yourself about the disease and the possible treatments as much as possible.
2. Make a plan. How will you achieve this goal? Your plan will help you focus on that goal. Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly refers to this determined, focused mindset as “the eye of the tiger,” which can help people dealing with health problems, such as lymphoma and other cancers. “You have to have the eye of the tiger to go through this grueling process that is necessary these days to get rid of these virulent and aggressive cancers,” Dr. Ganguly, a cancer specialist at Houston Methodist, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
3. Rely on others. Spend time with people who show you unconditional support and encouragement. They will alleviate your stress and help you remember that you’re not alone in this! Dr. Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist and author, previously told SurvivorNet that one “coping strategy that can be productive is reaching out and talking to others. Having support we know is really critical in the healing process.”
4. Use positive self-talk. Leave messages with affirmations in places you frequent. Put notes around your mirror or the computer screen that say “You got this!” or “Keep going!” Cut out inspirational quotes from people you admire and surround yourself with their words. Dr. Boardman explained to SurvivorNet that “Positive emotions have unique benefits above and beyond managing negative emotions.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff
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