Actor Marlyne Barrett, 44, known for her roles on "Chicago Med' and "The Wire," has uterine and ovarian cancer, she told People magazine on Sept. 27, 2022.
Barrett received the diagnosis in July after seeking medical advice on unexplained symptoms.
"I had this accumulation of fluid [in my abdomen] that I couldn't shake," Barrett told People. "I looked like I was nine months pregnant. And I also had shortness of breath but no pain, which was interesting."
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022, more than 65,000 new cases of uterine cancer and more than 19,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, the most of any cancer of the reproductive system.
"The first questions were, 'Am I going to live?'" Barrett said in the magazine article. "I just fell into my husband's arms. It still takes my breath away when I think about it."
After deliberation with her doctors, Barrett decided to undergo "aggressive" chemotherapy, followed by an eventual hysterectomy. She also decided to involve her family, including husband Gavin Barrett and their 11-month-old twins.
"I didn't want to give the power to chemo," Barrett told People. "My hair has always been an essence of beauty. But I took my own razor and I shaved my head. I did it in front of my babies so they'd see it was still Mommy. I wept, I wept, I wept. But it was a beautiful experience to do it in front of them."
Barrett portrayed her "Chicago Med" character Maggie Lockwood's battle with breast cancer in 2019. That performance inspired her to publicly discuss her cancers.
"I'm an extremely private person, but I felt a responsibility to tell my story," Barrett said in the magazine article. "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."