Kate Walsh on her brain tumor and finding a doctor who was 'a total Addison'

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/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Pace

For Kate Walsh, her brain tumor diagnosis in 2015 was a wake-up call that she had to make certain changes in her life.

She needed to slow down at work. She needed to take better care of herself. And she needed to start getting regular checkups.

Like many Americans who don’t visit a doctor until something is wrong, the former “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” star didn’t even have a general practitioner for preventative checkups.

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Luckily, she found a real-life version of her "Grey's Anatomy" character, Dr. Addison Montgomery, to provide treatment for her serious diagnosis.

Actors Eric Dane and Kate Walsh on "Grey's Anatomy."Adam Taylor / ABC

“She’s so cool and so knowledgeable and so fierce and amazing,” Walsh said in a recent interview on ABC Radio’s “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis.” “She’s wearing heels and backless dresses and she’s so knowledgeable and so kick-ass.”

In her first televised interview on the topic last week, Walsh explained on TODAY that before her diagnosis she started feeling exhausted and suffered bouts of mental confusion. She visited a neurologist and pushed to have a diagnostic MRI. The scan ended up finding a tumor the size of a small lemon.

After surgery, the doctors determined the noncancerous tumor, called a meningioma (the same kind Maria Menounos was diagnosed with last year), was benign. But the experience lead Walsh to feel a “God moment or a spiritual moment.”

“I refer to it as before tumor and after tumor,” Walsh told Jarvis. “Most people who go through a major health scare or crisis like that, it’s very cliché and trite, but it forces you to assess your life if you haven’t already.”

Walsh decided to keep her health scare private to give her time to reflect and heal. She’s now a paid spokeswoman for Cigna, and part of a self-aware (and funny) TV Doctors of America campaign with actors Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Dempsey and Donald Faison that encourages people to get preventative checkups.

“One thing people don’t consider is that you can actually develop a great relationship with your doctor,” Walsh told Jarvis. “You can find one you really love.”