Harry Connick Jr. and his wife Jill Goodacre just opened up about the health battle that’s quietly defined their lives for the past five years, reported People.
In 2012, Jill, then 48, went in for a routine breast exam. After a clear mammogram, they sent her back for a sonogram to confirm she was cancer free.
“They said, ‘Okay, looks good. Since you have dense breasts, just go across the hall for your sonogram,’” Goodacre, 53, told People.
Soon it became clear that the mammogram had missed something. Shortly after, she underwent a biopsy. The results came back positive for breast cancer—a diagnosis that came during breast cancer awareness month.
Doctors told Goodacre that she had Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. They said she would need to undergo a lumpectomy, a surgery that removes the cancerous tissue or other abnormal tissue without removing the whole breast like a mastectomy. Afterwards, she’d have to have radiation therapy.
The news not only shook Goodacre’s world but also her husband’s. It hit especially close to home for Connick Jr., who lost his mother to ovarian cancer at the age of 13.
“I was scared I was going to lose her, absolutely,” says Connick Jr., 50, “I wasn’t going to let her see that, but I was. I know from losing my mom that the worst can happen. She’s my best friend, and I really don’t know what I would do without her.”
The couple also struggled to tell their three daughters, calling it one of the hardest parts of the cancer battle. Goodacre said it broke her heart to share the news with Georgia, 21, Sara Kate, 20, and Charlotte, 15.
The family had to weather Goodacre’s grueling treatment. Although she did not have to undergo chemotherapy, her treatment still took a toll.
“The lumpectomy didn’t come back with clean margins,” explained Goodacre.
After the initial surgery, pathology tests revealed that she had extensive ductal carcinoma in situ, which People explains is a less invasive form of the disease.
“So I had to go in for a second surgery the very next day. And then radiation absolutely wiped me out. And since then there’s been the Tamoxifen, which I’ve now been taking for five years.”
Tamoxifen is an estrogen modulator that is taken in pill form. It’s designed to prevent the development of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. While it’s helped keep her cancer-free, it has side effects like weight gain. This has been especially hard for Goodacre, who was a Victoria’s Secret model in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I’ve always been a pretty fit person, and so to be just rounder and heavier and not to really be able to do much about it— that’s been hard. It’s taken a lot out of my self-confidence,” admitted Goodacre.
Connick Jr. added, “It’s a part of how the cancer and the treatment impacted her, and it was a real issue, even though she will always be the most beautiful woman in the world.”
Goodacre is reaching the five-year mark on her remission, and she will hopefully be able to go off the Tamoxifen. That anniversary also means she’s prepared to tell the world about her health battle.
“It wasn’t like we were superstitious, like if we said something about being in the clear we’d somehow jinx it,” Goodacre says. “But we wanted to be well on the other side of things before we told everybody. The doctors all say that after the five-year mark, things look optimistic, so we’re starting to feel pretty good."
“It’s not something that’s just going to go away like it never happened,” adds Goodacre. “I’ll always be a little nervous, always having to get checked, always hoping it doesn’t come back.”
Connick Jr. shared his take on the situation, “All I wanted to do was grow old with you and have as many years as possible as I could with you.”
Goodacre replied, “You always used to say that: ‘I just want to grow old with you.’”
“It’s true,” Connick Jr. said. “I wanted to know what you would look like older. … I made the right decision.”
In other news, a music legend passed away today.