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Rita Wilson opens up about 'anxiety and confusion' after breast cancer

by Ree Hines / / Source: TODAY

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Rita Wilson is a breast cancer survivor who was lucky enough to call herself "cancer-free" and "100 percent healthy" just months after her diagnosis in 2015.

But during a Monday morning visit to TODAY, the actress and singer stressed that the battle doesn't completely end with successful treatment. In fact, that's when a different sort of battle begins.

"When you've been diagnosed and you're going through whatever your procedures are, if it's surgery or treatments or whatever, there's always something to do and something you're taking care of," she explained. "And then afterwards, when the shock is over, you're sort of left with a little bit of ... 'What just happened to me?'"

Wilson had a double mastectomy a month after her own diagnosis, and then that question hit her, along with, "How do I deal with all of that?"

At first she tried to deal with it by simply getting on with life — and work. Just four weeks after her surgery, she returned to the play she'd been working on before it all happened (Larry David's "Fish in the Dark").

"It was a lot and my body still needed rest," she recalled. "Think I needed another eight weeks after that."

Rita Wilson on TODAY
Rita Wilson on TODAY.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Eventually, after she was physically restored, there was more to deal with.

"I experienced anxiety and confusion, even though I had a great prognosis and a great outcome," she shared.

That required — and still requires — a different course of treatments.

"I'm having new routines now and I stopped drinking as much alcohol as I did, and (I’m) exercising more," she said. "I incorporated mindfulness, meditation and some cognitive behavioral therapy."

That therapy is an important part of post-cancer healing, because as Wilson added, "You can't help but think, 'What if it comes back?'"

But she doesn't let herself dwell on that question.

"I learned that if you're going to have a fantasy about something, and you're creating it in your own head, why not have it be an amazing fantasy?" she said. "Like singing at the Carlyle ... or just having the fantasy of good health."

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