Cynthia Nixon's character on "Sex and the City" got a first hand look at what it's like to deal with breast cancer when Samantha (played by Kim Cattrall) was diagnosed with the disease on the show. Little did Nixon know that a few years later she'd be waging her own battle.
With a much more personal perspective on it, Nixon says that she wouldn't have changed a thing.
"It was so great. But Samantha's experience was very different than mine. It was much more dire and she had chemo and lost her hair and, you know, much more serious." she told Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
Nixon, now a breast cancer survivor, as is her mom, will be this year's ambassador for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation.
Her relationship with her mother has grown even stronger -- both having battled and survived breast cancer.
Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, in October of 2006.
"I had a completely routine mammogram and there was just a little something that looked funny to them. And luckily, even though I was 40 at the time, luckily I had been getting mammograms since I was 35 because my mother had cancer twice and they said they wouldn't have thought anything of it it was so small, but it wasn't there on the previous years. So in my case starting my mammograms early because I had a family history of it has been life saving," she explained.
Since Nixon has family history of breast cancer, she was tested for the breast cancer gene
but doesn't have it, thus proving that you can have breast cancer even if you've been tested and discover you don't have the gene.
"Very small -- many more people have a quote/unquote family history rather than having the gene," Nixon said.
Ultimately, Nixon's mother's diagnosis and her own made her come to a profound realization.
"The idea -- more nowadays than when my mother was diagnosed 30 years ago -- that this is not a death sentence. This is a medical problem and luckily we have a lot of great things that can knock it out. I mean, if you can catch breast cancer before it spreads beyond the breasts, there's a 98 percent survival rate," she said.
Nixon's treatment consisted of a lumpectomy, 6 1/2 weeks of radiation and she's still on medication for another 3 1/2 years.
Having a daughter, Nixon knows the urgency of keeping her informed and aware of breast cancer.
"I tell her that because she has a history of it in her family, she has to have due diligence and listen to her doctor about when she should get her mammograms and do it faithfully. I hope I can pass on to her what my mother passed on to me is the thing to do is to be on top of it. If you're on top of it, your chances are very good. The things you want to avoid is not getting a mammogram or if there's something questionable, not falling off on it. That's when you can get in trouble."
Nixon kept her diagnosis secret for a long time, scheduling her surgery for a Sunday, but later decided to become an advocate.
"I didn't want it public. I didn't want people coming to the play at night and that's what they were thinking about rather than the character I was playing. And also I didn't want there to be photographers at the hospital when I'd go in every day for the radiation."
Instead Nixon wanted to "get a little ways out" because people ultimately want to know the outcome and if you are OK.
"It's hard to say, well, I just finished my radiation last Tuesday, I'm great. But when you say I'm two years out from my diagnosis, things seem to be going well," she said.
According to Nixon, it was a perfect opportunity because she was looking for a way to speak about breast cancer publicly when Susan G. Komen -- only aware of her mother's breast cancer -- had approached her about being a spokesperson.
"I was like this is a great organization. (There's) not a better way of doing it," she said.
Nixon has a film coming out next year called "Lime Life" and she is going to do a play this February.
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