AceShowbiz - Kate Walsh reveals she was diagnosed with a benign meningioma two years ago. The former "Grey's Anatomy" star says in a new interview with Cosmopolitan that she had to undergo surgery to remove the "very sizable brain tumor."
"I had to really advocate, because they don't hand out MRIs so easily, but I got an MRI and thank God I did, because it turned out I had a very sizable brain tumor in my left frontal lobe," the actress tells the magazine. "And three days later I was in surgery having it removed."
In early 2015, when she had just wrapped up a starring role on NBC's "Bad Judge", Kate began to feel exhausted. "I had been working insane hours, maybe 80 hours a week, and also working out really hard, so I wasn't surprised," she says. "I figured, okay, I'll change up my workout routine, I'll go back to mellow stuff like hiking."
The actress says she had started to notice that she was having cognitive difficulties in the months leading up to the shocking diagnosis. She thought she was just having menopausal symptoms at first, but her health continued to get worse.
"My pilates instructor said 'hey, your right side is dipping,' and it didn't feel like I was off, but I looked down and could see it," the 49-year-old actress says of the gradual progression of her symptoms. "Then when I was driving, I started swerving into the right lane."
"The exhaustion got to the point where I could drink five cups of coffee, and still not feel awake or clear," she continues. "And then around April, I started having more cognitive difficulties. It felt like aphasia, but it wasn't just not being able to find words; I would lose my train of thought, I wasn't able to finish sentences, and that was when I got really alarmed."
Kate then saw a neurologist on "instinct" and pushed to get an MRI, which revealed a tumor in her left frontal lobe. Three days after the MRI, she went into surgery where surgeons removed the benign mass. Though the threat was taken care of, the actress knew she had to slow down during her recovery. "I love to work hard and do 800 things at once, and this was a really amazing lesson in just submitting to the process of healing," she says. "I did exactly what the doctors told me to do, and asked tons of questions when I had them, and got lots of support, and just took my time."
After a nine-month break from working, Kate returned to work as she shot several projects including "Girls Trip" and "13 Reasons Why". But the actress makes sure to get a good night's sleep and not overbook herself even though long days of filming are still in her schedule.
Kate recently teamed up with her former "Grey's Anatomy" co-star Patrick Dempsey in Cigna's new "TV Doctors" ad campaign to promote preventive care and annual check-ups to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index. She admits the campaign was a way for her to open up about her experience, and now she's trying to help others.
"We're all so socialized to try to self-diagnose, like 'I'll change my workout, I'll change my diet.' I'm very proactive and willful and independent, and in the past, even though I played a doctor on TV for years, I was not one to go see doctors very often, other than for my annual OB-GYN appointment," she says.
"So for me, it was a really big wakeup call to do annual check-ups, and that's why I wanted to pair up with Cigna for this campaign," she continues. "I love the idea of changing the framing around healthcare, and changing it from a reactionary thing - 'Oh my god, I'm sick, I have to go to the doctor' - to something more along the lines of preventative care. We should go get a checkup the same way we go to the gym, just preventatively, instead of waiting for something to go wrong."