Marilyn Barrett, 44, revealed she has uterine and ovarian cancer, in a new interview. The Chicago Med actress, whose character, nurse Maggie Lockwood battled breast cancer on the series, admitted that although she’s a “private person,” she felt a “responsibility” to tell her story, as she explained the situation, in a video posted by People. She also revealed that she had already started treatment.
“I’m an extremely private person, but I felt a responsibility to tell my story,” she began. “When my character went through breast cancer, I had a sea of people reach out to me through social media. They brought me courage, and so I felt a sense of inevitability to meet their hearts where they met me.”
“We as human beings are so scared to face the mortality of life, or to even pronounce the word cancer,” she continued. “But we have so much more strength inside of us than we think.”
Find out more about Marlyne and her diagnosis below.
Marlyne’s cancer journey started two months ago.
It was in Apr. after she had a hernia repair. “I had this accumulation of fluid [in my abdomen] that I couldn’t shake,” she said. “I looked like I was nine months pregnant. And I also had shortness of breath, but no pain, which was interesting.”
By July, her doctors explained that she had a mass on her ovary and uterus. “The initial experience was a shock, a shock to my womanhood,” she shared. “I didn’t believe them, but when they showed me the CT scan, I went, ‘Oh my word.’ The first questions were, ‘Am I going to live?’ I just fell into my husband’s arms. It still takes my breath away when I think about it.”
She’s a mom.
Marlyne is the mother of 11-month-old twins Joshuah-Jireh and Ahnne-N’Urya with her husband, pastor Gavin Barrett, whom she married in 2009. They have been helping her get through the struggles with her health. “I’m married to the most incredible man,” she said People. “I get pins and needles in my limbs from the chemo and he’ll drop everything to give me food and hand massages. He’s dropped everything just to give me love.”
Doctors told Marlyne she would need ‘aggressive’ treatment after her diagnosis.
The medical team said she would need chemotherapy and a hysterectomy after that. “The best way I could experience was to meet it,” she explained. “There’s no running from it because it’s my life. And eventually you just surrender because it’s so much bigger than anything you’ve ever faced. I found this courage and I just hunkered down and said, ‘I’m going to face this.’”
When discussing her inevitable hair loss from the treatment, Marlyne said she took matters into her own hands before it could happen. “I didn’t want to give the power to chemo,” she said. “My hair has always been an essence of beauty. But I took my own razor and shaved my head. I did it in front of my babies so they’d see it was still Mommy. I wept, I wept, I wept. But it was a beautiful experience to do it in front of them.”
As of Sept. 27, 2022, Marlyne is set to start her third round of chemotherapy at City of Hope in Los Angeles, CA. “I have a wave of emotion that comes,” she said “But it’s okay not to have it all together. You can’t tangibly hold onto fear. But I’m holding onto faith. I find new strength to carry on every day because of [my children]. I want to see them get married one day. And I will.”
Her career has consisted of many crime and medical dramas.
Some of her most recognizable work includes her role as Nerese Campbell on the HBO crime drama, The Wirefrom 2006 until 2008, her recurring role as Felicia Marquand in the legal drama Damagesand of course, her role as Head Charge Nurse Maggie Lockwood in the medical drama Chicago Med.
She’s continued to work on ‘Chicago Med’ despite her battle.
“I’ve had people shave their heads on set to support me,” she said about the supporting cast and crew. “I start an hour earlier to get my bearings before I start my day,” she explained while adding that she sometimes takes naps and takes occasional days off. “Because of the mass, my mid-range is a different size, so the costume department does an incredible job. Interestingly enough, my character on the show already wears a wig!”
“Work brings me a lot of joy right now,” she added. “It brings me a lot of reprieve to think about something other than, ‘When is my next chemo shift?’ and ‘How am I going to hug my children?’”
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