The actress and model, best known as a "Bud Girl" in Superbowl commercials, went on the attack.
The result led to a documentary about her battle on The Learning Channel and an "advice from the trenches" book she wrote titled "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips."
Following are excerpts from Chapter 1 of her book, part one of a 10-part series:
Chapter One:Happy Valentine's Day! You Have Cancer
"Cancer is such a frightening word. I imagined myself hairless and clinging to life. How could this be happening to me? Cancer happened to other people. People you read about, not people you knew and loved, certainly not yourself.
"I was only 31, young and vibrant. I was a Bud Girl, for Christ's sake! I felt like I was staring down the barrel of a gun, waiting to find out how many bullets were inside.
"The doctor started his explanation with the word Well - a loaded word if ever there was one. It is most frequently used in such situations as breakups, layoffs and bad medical news. Fasten your seat belt when the head of the transplant unit at Mount Sinai begins his sentence with the word Well. 'Well, we didn't find them in your bones or spleen, but there seem to be about 10 more tumors in both lungs.' Silence. A wave of nausea flooded my body. My recent emotional narcolepsy promoted itself to emotional paralysis.
"As I fought back tears, I asked if there was anything I could do. 'No just try to live a normal life,' Dr. Guru said. Earth to Dr. Guru, dome in Dr. Guru. Was he high? How could I do that? How could I live with cancer without thinking of dying every day? It was just so weird. I didn't look sick; I didn't feel sick, and yet there was so much cancer in me. 'If you want to, focus on building your immune system through diet and exercise,' he said.
"I quickly perked up. He'd just thrown me a crumb of control. I could do that! I could participate! I could educate myself and help my body out!
"Right then and there, I vowed to take that crumb and turn it into a cake. I was not gonna kick back and wait for the unknown.
"I was going to dive in and become a full-time healing junkie.
"Cancer isn't something to say thank you for, but it can be a catalyst. I finally had permission to take risks, put myself first and dump my luggage.
"I decided cancer needed a makeover, and I was just the gal to do it! So as a creative outlet, I began writing and filming my journey.
"I documented everything and everyone - the physicians, teachers, gurus, alternative doctors, and alternative quacks.
"Cancer connected me to women I would never have met otherwise; women who understood me in a way that no one else could.
"Some of them even let me film their stories for my documentary, which I named Crazy Sexy Cancer. The name concerned some people at first. Was I being flip, disrespectful, inappropriate? NO.
"I still had a sense of humor, which wasn't going to amputate just because there suddenly was this really serious thing in my life.
"I didn't want to lose myself. I was still crazy, sexy (sometimes), curious, silly and struggling. Poking fun at cancer helped me cope with it."
Reprinted with permission from "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips," published by skirt! Books, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press. To purchase this book, go online to skirt.com or your local bookstore.