I’m the television spokesperson for Perricone MD skincare products. I’ve been doing it for 17 years—I’ve never stuck with anything that long.
I come from an acting background, so my idea of life was always constant change. Shortly after arriving in New York to pursue my acting career, a friend on a film set gave me Dr. Perricone’s first book. Reading those powerful words on aging and healthy eating changed my life. I put it out to the universe that someday I would work for Dr. Perricone and help spread his message. And one day when I was at Sephora, filling my basket with his products, I turned around and he was standing right behind me. I said, “You tell the truth. I want to be part of that truth.” That was the beginning of a 17-year journey.
Now I use my platform to be a motivator, especially for women. Living with stage four metastatic breast cancer has changed what I give my voice to. I’m reinventing myself, deciding who I want to be. My connection with the audience has only grown since I’ve begun talking openly about my diagnosis.
I’ve told people from the beginning that I will be very honest. We live in an Instagram world, where everything looks perfect. I want to show that it’s okay to be fallible; it’s okay to mess up.
I’ve been dealing with cancer for 10 years. It’s very difficult, having three young children. I’m always trying to send subliminal messages, which they of course don’t get. A lot of topics are very loaded, like when another parent says, “When your daughter is 16...” and I think, I won’t be here when she’s 16.
I’m constantly telling my kids to follow their passions. The more we try to get away from who we are, the more problems arise. I went to Bali for a month to do a Kundalini yoga training course, which truly saved my life. I had some guilt about it. But I also wanted to turn it into a source of pride for my kids, like, “Isn’t it amazing, my mother prioritizes her own life enough to do that!”
I was put into menopause very suddenly, because my ovaries were removed. It has hit me hard in so many ways—sadness, depression, brain fog. Some days I just can’t function; I can’t even think. It’s probably the roughest road I’ve ever been down. I’ve talked to many women who feel similarly. You don’t know who you are, you know who you were. But that person is gone in many ways. So there’s a sense of mourning, but there’s also an awakening: Have I been living my desires, my dreams, my passions? How am I going to make that happen? It’s a complicated gift.
None of us knows how much time we have. There are so many things that I want to do: perform again, make art and dance pieces, help develop products for menopausal women, work with women who have cancer. And I want everything to happen now. Perfectionism trips me up sometimes. But I’ve got a switch in my brain now, just to take that first step.
I don’t use the phrase “fighting cancer.” This is not about a fight. The cancer is there to be your greatest teacher: of who you are, what your purpose is, what you’re meant to be.
Interviewed on February 4, 2019