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Julia Louis-Dreyfus says her initial reaction to cancer diagnosis was laughter

The 62-year-old actor shared in September 2017 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
/ Source: TODAY

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is opening up about her unusual reaction to learning in 2017 she had breast cancer

The 62-year-old actor recalled laughing after her doctor phoned her to share the scary health news in an interview with WSJ. Magazine published Nov. 1. 

Louis-Dreyfus found out about her cancer diagnosis on Sept. 18, 2017, the day after she won her sixth Emmy for her portrayal of the hilarious Selina Meyer in the comedy series “Veep.” Her doctor called her the next morning and she immediately burst into laughter after their conversation ended, she told the publication. 

“I mean, it felt like it was written,” she said, explaining her response. “It felt like it was a horrible black comedy.”

When the laughter stopped, she was overcome with sadness. She said, “And then it sort of morphed into crying hysterically.” 

The “Seinfeld” star continued, “You just simply don’t consider it for yourself, you know, that’s sort of the arrogance of human beings. But of course, at some point, we’re all going to bite it.”

At the time, she posted about her breast cancer diagnosis on social media. “Just when you thought...” she tweeted on Sept. 28, 2017, sharing a statement that began, “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one.”

She added that the “good news” was she was surrounded by supportive family and friends. Louis-Dreyfus also pointed out that she had access to health insurance and cancer treatments. 

“The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality,” she said. 

Louis-Dreyfus shared more updates with fans in the following months. She had her last day of chemotherapy in January 2018 and a month later she revealed on Instagram she had surgery that yielded “great results.” 

“The New Adventures of Old Christine” actor told WSJ. Magazine that she remembered making a “complaint list” while going through chemotherapy and surgery. She said she wrote down the “inappropriate” comments and gifts she received after people learned she was sick. 

“I liked to put things on that list that I wasn’t supposed to say out loud,” she said. “A complaint list, you know, the specifics about things that were happening to my body that I wanted to write down, things that were happening, you know, when I was in chemo and what was happening to my body as a result of that.”

She described the physical changes as “horrible” and “medieval.” 

“And then people do say it comes from a positive place, but sometimes people say incredibly remarkable things that are inappropriate,” she said. 

Now that she has been in remission for five years, the actor said she has adjusted the way she lives her life. 

“I find myself living more mindfully. It’s not like it’s yakking at me all the time, but there’s more laser focus,” she shared. 

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager discussed Louis-Dreyfus’ interview and her more mindful approach to her life during the fourth hour of TODAY Nov. 2. 

Hoda, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, weighed in and said that the “Veep” actor’s new perspective was relatable. 

“I feel like anyone who’s ever gone through that cancer trip or journey, I feel like your life does snap into focus,” Hoda said. “It’s sort of like, ‘Boom!’ And you’re like, ‘OK, what am I doing right now?’”

The TODAY anchor said she felt braver after her health scare. 

“I became fearless, like wildly fearless. I was always concerned, I was a pleaser (beforehand). Suddenly, I was like, ‘It could be over,’” she recalled. 

With her new confidence, she decided to pitch herself to become the co-host of TODAY’s fourth hour. 

“Sometimes it’s like the scariest thing in the world becomes the thing that makes you fearless,” she said.