Marissa Jaret Winokur – Cancer-Free for 10 years!

You loved this article about Marissa Jaret Winokur so much that we're bringing it back to celebrate a happy anniversary!
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Marissa Jaret Winokur – Cancer-Free for 10 years!

You loved this article about Marissa Jaret Winokur so much that we’re bringing it back to celebrate.

-Melissa Stanton

Marissa Jaret Winokur with her family

Last March we ran this story about Marissa and her fight to be a mother despite a frightening battle with cervical cancer. This month, she wrote about the past decade on, thanking all the people who helped her along the way. I love my husband Judah, who sat by my side in the hospital all day and night 10 years ago. I feel so lucky and blessed for every day I have had since “The Big C,” and I’m just so happy to share this day with all of you! Congratulations, Marissa, Judah, and their adorable son, Zev!

It’s late afternoon on a rainy Friday in L.A., and Marissa Jaret Winokur is carrying her baby son, Zev, into a playdate at a friend’s house. She’s looking forward to it for two reasons: She can socialize with other moms, and like them, she’ll prep her energetic toddler for an early bedtime. Says the actress: “This is our last-ditch effort to tucker them out.”

Marissa just turned 37, and devoting this time in her life to mommy-and-me playdates is a chance she once thought she’d never have. Ten years ago a routine pap smear revealed that Marissa had cervical cancer. After considering her medical options, she chose to have a hysterectomy. Fearful of losing her starring role as Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway play Hairspray, then in pre-production, Marissa hid her diagnosis and treatment. (She later won a Tony award for her performance.)

TV writer Judah Miller (now working on FOX’s American Dad) was at Marissa’s side throughout her ordeal. They married in 2006 and began to pursue parenthood via in vitro fertilization (Marissa’s ovaries hadn’t been removed in the surgery) and surrogacy. The first method failed, but in July 2008 Marissa and Judah were in the delivery room for the birth of their son via a surrogate mom.

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Almost two years later, Marissa still hasn’t lost her new-mom enthusiasm. (“If I’m away from my son for even one night, I ache inside.”) She is a spokesperson for Luvs diapers, recently helped gather baby supplies for relief efforts in Haiti, and is thrilled to be appearing on an upcoming episode of the popular Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba. “I begged them to let me be on,” she says about playing a bird and singing a duet with Toodee, the blue cat-dragon. “When I heard myself singing with Toodee, I was literally tearing up, thinking, ‘This is so cool. My son’s going to love this so much.’”

What’s your typical day like now that you have a child?
I wake up with my son at 5:30. We have breakfast. We’re usually at a music class or a play gym by 9:30. I have help during the day so I can go to work or appointments. My son and I then do something in the late afternoon, like go to a park or a playdate.

What’s changed about your work or personal routine?
I notice that when people see I’m not working on a show or something, they’ll say, “Oh, you’re just being a mommy now.” I’m like, “Wait, I’m a mom when I’m working, and I’m a mom when I’m not working.” I’m an actress. I’m often between jobs. My career allows me to be both a “working” mom and a stay-at-home mom. Another change is that I’ve mastered getting ready in 20 minutes. I don’t have three hours anymore to have someone do my hair and make-up before a premiere, or to drive an hour each way to go to a doctor. I’ve changed doctors, though not my cancer doctor, to be closer to where I live.

You mentioned your cancer doctor, but you’re cancer-free now.
I am, but I still get check-ups as often as I’m allowed to. If they’d let me, I’d be the girl who’s at the doctor every month double-checking. December 10 will be ten years from when I was told I was cured. This is a big year for me.

Because the cancer surgery removed your uterus but not your ovaries, you and Judah could use in vitro fertilization and surrogacy to become biological parents.
Yes, and we hope to do it again. The cancer was caught early enough that I could keep my ovaries. I was very lucky.

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