Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of the HBO political comedy Veep, is a cancer survivor as well as a talented actress. In September 2017, one day after Louis-Dreyfus won her sixth consecutive Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Comedy for her work on Veep, she revealed on social media that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The actress shared the devastating news with her fans on September 28, 2017, writing “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.” She added that she was grateful for the “most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends,” and asked her fans to continue to fight for universal healthcare.
Shortly after she shared her diagnosis with the public, E! Online reported that production for the final season of Veep was delayed. Executive Producer Frankie Rich told The Press Pool in an interview “I can tell you that Julia is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and we’re obviously postponing production of the show. We were supposed to have started now while she’s in treatment, but the expectation is that we will shoot again. We have one more season we’re doing, which we’re incredibly excited about.”
Almost a year after announcing she would be undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Louis-Dreyfus returned to work in August 2018, and began filming the final season of Veep. At the time of her return, Louis-Dreyfus said she was “deeply grateful” to be back at work, according to Survivor Net. She revealed that she was cancer-free in October 2018 on Jimmy Kimmel Live (check out the video below). On the late night talk show, she opened up about her chemo and how the experience alerted her to the United States’ health care problem.
Earlier this year, at HBO’s Television Critics Association press tour, the actress explained why she decided to go public with the fact that she was battling the disease.
“I normally wouldn’t share such a private thing publicly,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “[However], I knew it would get out there because I knew we had to shut down [VEEP] production for a number of months in order to accommodate my situation. So then I thought, ‘Well, I’m just going to embrace this and attack it and try to do it with a sense of humor. I was really pleased with the reaction.”
In an interview with The New Yorker, Louis-Dreyfus said that although she was “to-[her]-bones” afraid of dying, she refused to let those thoughts and feelings of hopelessness take over. She worked to constantly surround herself with loved ones, who often helped her through her chemo treatments and supported her implicitly through her journey to remission.
“The old cliché about laughter being the best medicine turns out to be true,” the actress said while rehearsing her acceptance speech for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor she received in October. “When I was getting my hideous chemotherapy, I’d cram a bunch of friends and family into the tiny treatment room with me….We really did have some great laughs.” She joked, “Of course, I was heavily medicated and slipping in and out of consciousness, so I was a pretty easy audience.”
Louis-Dreyfus experienced terrible side effects after each of the six rounds of chemo she went through. They included “debilitating” nausea and diarrhea, an inability to eat without vomiting, painful neuropathy in her hands and feet, and sores on her face and inside her mouth, Self reports.
She shared another update on Instagram after the surgery she received when she finished chemo; in the caption, she wrote “Hoorah! Great doctors, great results, feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery. Hey cancer, “Fuck you!” Here’s my first post-op photo.”
As of today, Louis-Dreyfus is reported to be cancer-free and celebrating life when she isn’t acting. According to The New Yorker, facing her own death has given her a new view on life, after undergoing chemotherapy and the subsequent surgery that followed.
“I have a different kind of view of my life now, having seen that edge—that we’re all going to see at some point, and which, really, as a mortal person you don’t allow yourself to consider, ever. And why would you? What are you going to do with it?” she told The New Yorker. “I was a little more breezy before. I was a little…breezy.”
You can watch the final episode of Veep tonight at 10:30 p.m. EST/9:30c, only on HBO.
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