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Maura Tierney was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 -- but aside from announcing that she had to turn down a role on NBC's family drama Parenthood, she remained relatively quiet about her struggle with breast cancer.
Now the primetime actress is opening up about details of her life with breast cancer. "I remember thinking, 'I'm so young, this can't be happening,'" Tierney, 47, tells People in this week's issue. "It was an odd moment."
After a skin-saving mastectomy -- a procedure that leaves the skin prepared for reconstructive plastic surgery -- Tierney was upset to discover she had to also undergo three months of chemotherapy to treat her early stage of breast cancer.
"It's not fun. You don't feel well," says Tierney, who is the spokeswoman for Amgen's Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts campaign. "But if you take care of yourself and exercise, it helps. Exercising is extremely important."
Tierney, who will guest star on CBS's The Good Wife this fall, is done with her treatment, but she still has an annual MRI and mammogram to stay on top of her health and monitor the possibility of a relapse.
She also explains how the experience of dealing with cancer made her focus on what's truly important: her family.
"I think I always kind of lived in the moment. I don't think [cancer] changed me that way," she reveals. "But I spend a lot more time with my family now – that's one solid difference."