Chicago Med Star Marlyne Barrett Shares Uterine, Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

marlyne barrett

NBC’s Chicago Med actress Marlyne Barrett opens up about her real-life battle with cancer.

The actress recently revealed to People Magazine that in July she was diagnosed with uterine and ovarian cancer.

Initially Barrett underwent a hernia repair in April. However after her repair “I had this accumulation of fluid [in my abdomen] that I couldn’t shake. I looked like I was nine months pregnant. And I also had shortness of breath, but no pain, which was interesting.”

After returning to the doctors on July 18th, she was stunned to learn she had a tumor the size of a football on her uterus and left ovary. News that the actress called a “shock to my womanhood,” especially since her family had no history of ovarian or uterine cancers.

“I didn’t believe them, but when they showed me the CT scan, I went, ‘Oh my word.’ The first questions were, ‘Am I going to live?’ I just fell into my husband’s arms. It still takes my breath away when I think about it.”

Interestingly enough Barrett’s character, nurse Maggie Lockwood, also battled cancer on Chicago Med. And it was Barrett’s TV persona’s storyline that inspired her to public with her own health journey.

“I’m an extremely private person, but I felt a responsibility to tell my story. When my character went through breast cancer, I had a sea of people reach out to me through social media. They brought me courage, and so I felt a sense of inevitability to meet their hearts where they met me.”

Since her diagnosis, Marlyne Barrett has been taking it “one day at a time” as she prepares to undergo her third round of chemotherapy at City of Hope medical center in Los Angeles.

Barrett, who is a mom to 11-month-old twins with her husband of over 10 years, Pastor Gavin Barrett; has since started chemotherapy and has undergone a hysterectomy.

“I found this courage and I just hunkered down and said, ‘I’m going to face this,’” she said.

Despite her battle, Barrett is still working as it helps keep her occupied. She is still filming Chicago Med and has complete support from the cast and crew. “I’ve had people shave their heads on set to support me,” she says.

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In order to keep working, “I start an hour earlier to get my bearings before I start my day,” says the actress, who also takes naps and occasional days off to keep up her energy.

In addition, “because of the mass, my mid-range is a different size, so the costume department does an incredible job,” says Barrett. “Interestingly enough, my character on the show already wears a wig!” And ultimately, “work brings me a lot of joy right now,” she says. “It brings me a lot of reprieve to think about something other than, ‘When is my next chemo shift?’ and ‘How am I going to hug my children?'”

Barrett, who is also known for her role on The Wire, says she also hopes to inspire others to share their own painful or uncomfortable truths. “We as human beings are so scared to face the mortality of life, or to even pronounce the word cancer,” she says. “But we have so much more strength inside of us than we think.”

Chicago Med airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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