Edie Falco Talks About Her Breast Cancer Journey

While working on The Sopranos, on September 5, 2003, actress Edie Falco was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer. In overcoming the disease, she discovered many things—not the least of which was a strengthened resolve to become a mother. Here she talks with Health about surviving the disease.

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The moment a doctor says “We have bad news” is life changing. For me, time stopped. I couldnt walk. I couldnt breathe. Luckily I was with my boyfriend, because I would have passed out otherwise.

But then I thought: I am a strong woman. I have resources to get good treatment, so why not me? Perhaps, better me than some single mother of three kids who is working three jobs. I know I can handle this.

It was very important for me to keep my diagnosis under the radar, even from the cast and crew of The Sopranos, because well-meaning people would have driven me crazy asking, “How are you feeling?” I would have wanted to say, “Im scared, I dont feel so good, and my hair is falling out

My good friend, Ilene Landress, the shows producer, kept things quiet by working my schedule around my treatments. With the cancer a secret, I bucked up, put on my Carmela fingernails, and was ready to work.

I take very good care of myself (mostly because I didnt many years ago), and that served me well during chemo. Running every day made me feel calm and strong, even as my self-image suffered from my hair falling out. Id wear all kinds of crazy little hats with hair attachments. Id even wear them to bed so I wouldnt be frightened if I walked by a mirror before I was really awake. I gained weight, too, from eating fatty food, the only stuff I could tolerate on the days I was really nauseated.

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Mackenzie Brown and Jennifer Graham Kizer
Last Updated: September 26, 2008

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