Fans of Chicago MedMarlyne Barrett will remember the emotional scenes made by the actress filmed in 2019 when her character, lead nurse Maggie Lockwood, was battling breast cancer. But what the star has not revealed until now is that she has been quietly battling cancer herself, since doctors found a football-sized tumor on her uterus and removed an ovary in a month July.
“I’m a very private person, but I felt it was my duty to tell my story,” says Barrett, 44, who has 11-month-old twins Joshuah-Jireh and Ahnne-N’Urya with her husband husband, Reverend Gavin Barrett. “When my character went through breast cancer, there was a sea of people who reached out to me through social media. They gave me courage, so I felt an inevitable feeling to meet their hearts when they met me.”
Barrett, who is also known for her role on The Wire, says she also hopes to inspire others to share their own painful or uncomfortable truths. “As humans we are so afraid to face the mortality of life, or even utter the word cancer,” she says. “But we have much more strength inside of us than we think.”
George Burns Jr./NBC
Barrett’s tough cancer journey began two months ago when she started feeling out of sorts after having a hernia repaired in April. “I had this fluid build-up [in my abdomen] that I couldn’t shake,” she says. “I looked like I was nine months pregnant. And I was also short of breath, but I didn’t have any pain, which was interesting.”
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On July 18, doctors informed Barrett that she had a mass on her ovary and uterus; the actor was stunned by the news. “It was a great experience at first, and it surprised my wife,” says Barrett, who has no family history of uterine or ovarian cancers. “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 fell into my husband’s arms. It still takes my breath away when I think about it.”
Despite her worries, Barrett jumped into defense mode as doctors informed her that she would need “aggressive” chemotherapy before an eventual hysterectomy. “The best way I could experience it was to attend it,” she says. “There’s no running away from it because it’s my life. And in the end you just surrender because it’s so much more than anything you’ve ever faced. I found this courage and I just fell down and said, ‘I’m going to face this.'”
When it became inevitable that she would lose her hair, “I didn’t want to give the power to chemo,” says Barrett. “My hair was always a beauty. But I took my own razor and shaved my head. I did it in front of my children so they could see that Mummy still had it. But it was a beautiful experience do in front of them.”
During the tour, Barrett also found endless comfort in Gavin, whom she married in 2009. “I’m married to the most incredible man,” she says. “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 to love me.”
George Burns Jr./NBC
Throughout her physical discomfort, Barrett worked steadily, following her Chicago Med cast and crew for additional support when needed. “People have shaken their heads at me in support,” she says, fighting back tears.
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In order to continue working, “I start an hour earlier to get my bearings before starting my day,” says the actor, who also takes occasional naps and vacations to recharge his batteries. keep up.
In addition, “because of the mass, my mid-size range is different, so the clothing department does an incredible job,” says Barrett. “Interestingly enough, my character on the show already wears a wig!” And finally, “the work makes me very happy right now,” she says. “It gives me a lot of relief to think about something other than, ‘When is my next chemo?’ and ‘How am I going to hug my children?'”
Now, as she prepares for her third round of chemotherapy at City of Hope in Los Angeles, Barrett says she’s taking it “one day at a time.”
“I have a wave of emotion that comes,” she admits. “But it’s not quite right to have it together. You really can’t stand the fear. But I’m taking your faith.”
Barrett continues: “Every day I find new strength to carry on because of [my children]. I want to see them get married one day. And I will.”
Chicago Med on Wednesdays at 8 pm ET on NBC.