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 7 of her book, part 9 of a 10-part series.
Chapter 7: Bald Is Beautiful
"Grab your holster and six shooter, cowgirl, it's time to confront the mirror! Walk slowly, lower your chin into your power glare, and get ready to face off. Can't you just hear the old spaghetti-western theme music playing in the background? Look yourself in the eye and say 'Ta da'!
"(This exercise is even more rewarding when done in the nude. Gulp.) Don't worry, no matter what you see, you won't break.
"It's okay to be scared, and it's okay to be vain. You're used to seeing the same girl stare back at you each day. It's a real shock when you can barely recognize yourself.
"You may be banged up and feeling like 50 cents rather than a million bucks, but remember, this body of yours is only a temporary house built to protect the righteous Aphrodite within. Worship her.
"The first thing I asked when I found out I had cancer was, "Will I lose my hair?' The second question was 'Will I die?' - second! That's how important my hair was to me. I'm not alone. For a lot of women, their locks are their defining feature, a symbol of femininity, sexual power, even fertility! For some, losing their hair can be even more traumatic than losing their breasts. Why? Because the change is obvious, and even if you don't feel sick, without hair, you look it.
"As it turned out, I didn't lose my hair, but I did lose my confidence. Even though I had no visible signs of cancer on the outside, on the inside I felt flawed and different. I still recognized the girl in the mirror, but I sensed that a part of her was gone. Cancer had dulled my sparkle; in my mind, my body had betrayed me. How could I be confident when I felt like a walking skull and crossbones?
"When an out-of-control heckler shouts 'Nice haircut!' politely respond, 'Thanks, my oncologist styled it!' Open mouth, insert foot.
"Jackie had a wig for every day and every mood. One day she was a hot blonde; the next, Mary Tyler Moore. She also cruised around in a pink beauty. Of all her strands, this one was the coolest! Pink really does wonders for your complexion and your spirits. I was inspired to make my own pink wig purchase, and let me tell you, Brian loves it (but that's another story!)
"Would losing my breasts take that away? What would I do: implant, no implant? One boob and proud? What about the nipple - does that go, too? And if so, then what? A cool tattoo of a flower or a dragon? So many questions, and so many options! Another reason I am lucky to have my posse is that in sharing our many different stories and perspectives, it's clear the issues we discuss are universal."
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 a bookstore.