Julia Louis-Dreyfus experienced 'true fear' after breast cancer diagnosis

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GOOD MORNING AMERICA - 3/25/19 Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a guest on "Good Morning America," Monday, March 25, 2019, airing on the Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Television Network.    GMA19 (Photo by Paula Lobo/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images via Getty Images) JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS
Julia Louis-Dreyfus opened up about breast cancer on Dax Shepard's podcast. (Photo: Paula Lobo/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is in remission from breast cancer — after undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy — but getting the initial diagnosis in 2017 made her experience “true fear.”

In a wide-ranging interview on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, she revealed more about discovering the “divot” in her breast and getting the diagnosis two days later — which happened to be the morning after her big win at the 2017 Emmys. While her reaction to the news wasn’t typical (“I started howling laughing,” she said), immediately “everything that is precious” in life “becomes clear.”

The Veep actress, 58, said that breast cancer was “never” on her radar as far as it being hereditary or something she worried about. And it wasn’t during a routine mammogram that it was discovered.

Read more: Julia Louis-Dreyfus tells breast cancer 'f*** you' after surgery

“I just noticed something in my breast — a slight divot,” she said, noting at the time she thought, “What the hell is that? That’s so weird.” Her husband of 32 years, writer and director Brad Hall, suggested that maybe she slept on it funny. “Yeah, I guess so. That’s weird,” she thought before adding, “Then the sh** hit the fan man — it was fast and furious.”

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The Friday before the 2017 Emmys — when Veep won Outstanding Comedy Series
and she won another Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series award — it was biopsied.

“My doctor said, ‘I think you should prepare for bad news’ and I was like, What? Then we had the Emmys. You have to go to all those parties — I don’t remember any of it, I was on autopilot. Then [at the Emmys], we won ... and i won. It was all very exciting. The next morning, I got the call that it was in fact cancer.”

She continued, “I will admit to you I started howling laughing,” she said about the juxtaposition of winning big at the awards show the night before followed by the devastating news the next morning. “It’s hilarious,” she says. “You got a trophy in one hand and a cancer diagnosis [in the other]. It’s incredible.”

Read more: Veep’s executive producer explains why it was time to end acclaimed comedy

The whole thing was life-changing. “Talk about a lens changer,” she said. “Everything [else] falls off. Everything.” She said she initially felt “panic,” which was followed by “fear — true fear.” And then, quickly, “everything that is precious becomes clear.”

Almost immediately, she went public with the news, in the unforgettable post about how “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.” It was also political in its message, talking about the need for universal healthcare. And the “one in eight” are who she thought of she went for her treatments, including six rounds of chemo, before entering remission last year.

“It’s a lot of people. It’s a lot of women. Men get breast cancer. Cancer is a big business, man,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “That’s the thing that i was so struck by when I walked into [the treatment facility]. I was like: Wow, this cancer thing… is a booming business. It sounds nasty the way i’m saying but [it was like]: Jesus Christ, look what’s going on here.”

Henry Hall, Charlie Hall, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall attend the premiere of the seventh and final season of HBO's "Veep" on March 26. (Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Henry Hall, Charlie Hall, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall attend the premiere of the seventh and final season of HBO's "Veep" on March 26. (Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP)

The star mentioned how “everything that is precious becomes clear” after such a diagnosis, and how her family was a big part of that. Talking about her marriage to Hall, whom she met at Northwestern University in their pre-Saturday Night Live days, she said, “I definitely chose the right guy. He’s a really steadfast, calm, confident, morally-centered person. He was raised well. I’m not suggesting it is always easy, but together we’ve been bound to one another and we just carry on.”

And he “takes pride in my success,” she said, referring to her acclaimed career, including Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine. “Without him in my life — and my children [Charlie and Henry] — you can forget about it in terms of the trajectory of my life. Forget it. Because I think ultimately this is all very important to me — my career and being an actor — but it hasn‘t been the most important to me. And i think that’s what made it work. I had a really solid place to be without it and that has just freed me up.”

By Suzy Byrne Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

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