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Maura Tierney may have played a doctor for 10 years on the NBC hit ER, but when it came to getting a lump in her breast checked out by a professional, the actress admits she balked.
"I was so, so scared of going to the doctor," Tierney says in the new issue of Parade. "I felt something, and my boyfriend at the time made me go. He said, 'You've got to take care of this,' because I was afraid. That's one thing I will say: Don't be afraid to go to the damn doctor. Just go!"
"It turned out to be a more aggressive kind of cancer than they thought," she explains, adding that her doctor informed her that a decade ago pathologists might have missed it altogether. "He said they would have patted me on the head and told me, 'You're cured,' and I would have died of breast cancer."
But even with the terrifying news, Tierney says she refused to feel sorry for herself.
Tierney is back on the small screen this fall, in the new ABC legal drama The Whole Truth.
"There is one thing I've learned for sure," she says. "It's a life-changing thing to be in a position of needing help and being so lucky as to get it. And to feel like that's okay. You can't just take care of everybody else all the time. That's almost as perspective-changing as the illness. For someone like me, that was kind of tough."
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