It sounds like something that would happen on Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, not in real life: In 2015, Kate Walsh’s doctor told her something no one ever expects to hear: “You have a brain tumor.” The actress didn’t talk about her diagnosis publicly, but privately her world was turned upside down as she prepped for a major surgery to have the tumor removed.
Now, two years later—and fully recovered—she is speaking out about her experience for the first time by teaming up with Cigna, stressing the importance of getting an annual checkup. (Yes, even if you go to the gyno and derm once a year, having a GP is still important. According to the Centers for Diseases Control, if everyone in America gets the preventive care they need, regardless of their age, it saves roughly 100,000 lives a year.)
“I’m doing great. I had a full recovery and am really lucky,” Walsh says. “The only side effects I have are a heightened sense of hearing and [sense of smell].” That said, her experience changed both her outlook on life and wellness habits for good. “Now, I work less and only on projects I love instead of always being consumed with the next thing. And I’m much more present and enjoying life more.”
“Developing [self-care] rituals the same way you prioritize eating right and exercising is important.”
While Walsh says she has always exercised regularly—she especially loves Pilates and yoga—she says her diagnosis and treatment taught her to listen to what her body needs more. “I definitely prioritize self-care in a way that I hadn’t before,” she says. “Most people, particularly women who are busy mothering, careering, parenting, sistering, daughtering, wife-ing, wait until there is a real problem to take action. But developing [self-care] rituals the same way you prioritize eating right and exercising is important.” And yes, that includes regular check-ups, but bubble baths and a glass of wine with your friends counts too.
She also changed the way she meditates. While Walsh says she had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for years, now she practices mindfulness. “It’s watching your thoughts and feelings and focused on breath and it’s really great,” she says. And lately those thoughts have been largely focused around one feeling: gratitude.