It’s been three years since Maura Tierney, then 44 and set to star in the NBC series Parenthood, was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. Ten days after her mastectomy, the actress, who spent 10 years on ER playing first a nurse, then a doctor, was advised by her oncologist that she should begin chemotherapy. “I agreed,” she says, “but the thought of chemo was as terrifying as the diagnosis.”
Today, Tierney is working to help other patients avoid such fear. As spokeswoman for Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts (chemomythsorfacts.com), an awareness campaign sponsored by the biotech company Amgen, she hopes to provide sound information to the 650,000 people who will undergo chemotherapy in the U.S. this year.
Before treatment, says Tierney, “I was afraid I’d be completely debilitated, just a pile on the couch every day.” As it turned out, she hiked, walked or rode her bike on all but the last five days. “It’s not fun and it’s not easy,” she says, “but for me chemo was more manageable than I’d anticipated.”
Healthy today and in better shape than ever—thanks to a new fitness regimen of swimming laps 40 minutes a day—Tierney has joined the cast of CBS’s The Good Wife in a recurring role as an Internet entrepreneur and bigwig Democratic donor. She’s especially excited to play opposite fellow ER alum Julianna Margulies (“I delivered her twins on my very first episode,” she boasts). She’s also elated to be out of scrubs, observing that her new character is “either a millionaire or billionaire. I’m not sure which, but in any case, the wardrobe should be killer.”
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of More