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 8 of her book, part 10 of a 10-part series.
Chapter 8: Bandage or Bondage: Dating, Sex, Marriage, Babies
"It's not surprising that sex isn't always at the top of a Cancer Babe's to-do list after her diagnosis and treatment! In some cases we're hurt, freaked out, and feeling like aliens in a foreign body. And let's be real: Dating is treacherous with or without cancer.
"Survivors often find that there is a big difference between dating post- and pre-cancer. No matter what, cancer changes you. When you're recovering from trauma, intimacy can make you feel raw and vulnerable.
"But there are lots of ways to get the engine started. Be creative: You have a new body now, so why not try something new to please it.
"Choose to go forward with abandon. Cancer can ignite an inner revolution and sexual liberation - if we let it. You are stronger and wiser and all grown up now. Stoke the fires and let your inner stripper rip. Cancer helps us to go deeper, appreciate relationships more, and even create healthier role models for ourselves and our children.
"Looking back, being alone was the best thing for me. I got real with myself immediately. Instead of getting to know someone else, I got to know me. I found out who I was without the mirror of a man telling me who he thought I was. It was awesome! I even stopped shaving my legs for a few months. Wow, was I coming into my own.
"In my case, my diagnosis made my marriage, but in other cases, it can break one. Like it or not, your cancer experience will reveal the depth of your partner's potential. When the going gets tough, will he be a valuable team player or will he just bail? When I say bail, I don't just mean physically leave you. A partner can vacate while he or she is still sharing your bed (and probably stealing the blankets!). Checking out emotionally is not an option.
"It's important to be open and honest and to communicate. Silence helps no one. Give your partner a chance to understand you. It's quite possible that he'll be more supportive than you think.
"Making a decision to have a child is yours and yours alone. Of course your partner has a huge say, but ultimately you have the final word, especially if it involves your body. And be prepared for everyone to weigh in. Some people may even criticize you, dishing out a how-could-you-sort of scolding. Just the best and leave the rest. No one else can walk in your high heels.
"Many women are not told that cancer treatments can cause infertility and premature menopause until it's too late. Unfortunately, many oncologists don't think beyond your survival. They don't worry about you moving on with your life. I guess in their book, just being alive is good enough.
"The good news is that more options exist than ever before. Fertility preservation and parenthood after cancer are definitely possible. Most importantly, know your risks, know your fertility status, and know your options."
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 local bookstore.