Nearly three years after successfully completing treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer, Emmy-nominated actress Maura Tierney is reflecting back on her cancer journey and its impact on her life with the hope of helping others.
Tierney, who is most famous for her decade-long role in ER as Dr. Abby Lockhart, is promoting a new awareness campaign for cancer patients and their caregivers called Chemotherapy: Myths or Fact, sponsored by the biotechnology company Amgen. The campaign aims to expose common misconceptions about chemotherapy.
Forget much of what you’ve heard about chemotherapy. With as many as 650,000 people going through the cancer treatment each year, most people form preconceived notions about how chemotherapy might affect them or their loved ones.
As a result, Dr. Patrick Cobb, M.D., an oncologist at Frontier Cancer Center in Billings, Mont. says there are many myths associated with chemo.
The treatment affects people differently, so experts say cancer patients and their caregivers should take control of their cancer journey by talking openly with their doctors about what to expect.
Tierney, 47, is the quintessential spokesperson, speaking openly about her own cancer battle that began in 2009.
In a telephone interview, Tierney said when her doctors told her she would have to undergo chemotherapy unexpectedly after surgery, she had a lot of fear and anxiety about the treatment based on what she had heard.
“I worried that I would be so sick I wouldn’t be able to get up, but for me the treatment was a lot more manageable than I thought it would be,” Tierney said. “During treatment you can still love life. You can do things that you love. I’m not saying it’s always easy or fun, but you can manage it.”
One common myth is people going through the treatment should avoid spending time with family and friends.
“This is largely untrue,” says Dr. Cobb. “While most people receiving chemotherapy should be careful about visiting others who are sick and avoid large crowds, having a support system in place to help keep a positive outlook is critical to a patient’s emotional well-being during this time.”