“If I Couldn’t Eat, I Didn’t Want to Live,” Stanley Tucci Opened Up About His Journey Surviving Tongue Cancer
Stanley Tucci feels like he has a second chance at life. The Oscar-nominated actor revealed that he’s “incredibly lucky” to be alive after being diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017. Tucci opened up about how he wouldn’t have been able to get through it without the help of his children and his wife, Felicity Blunt, the older sister of his The Devil Wears Prada co-star, Emily Blunt.
It took time to get the right diagnosis.
Before getting an accurate diagnosis, Tucci spent 2 years living with extreme pain in his jaw. “I had a scan, but the scan missed it. And, of course, when you think that there might be something wrong, you’re also afraid that there is something wrong,” he explained.
It took seeing multiple doctors to finally discover that he had a 3-centimeter tumor at the base of his tongue: “They couldn’t do surgery because the tumor was so big. It’s a miracle that it didn’t metastasize. It had been in me so long.”
Stanley Tucci’s first wife, Kate Tucci, died of breast cancer in 2009.
The mass “was too big to operate” and could only be treated with “high-dose radiation and chemo.”
Tucci, who lost his first wife, Kate, to breast cancer, was wary of this. “I’d vowed I’d never do anything like that because my first wife died of cancer, and to watch her go through those treatments for years was horrible,” the actor admitted.
Tucci shares a daughter and son with his wife, Felicity. He is also a father to 3 older children from his first marriage.
Stanley went through a 35-day radiation treatment plus 7 sessions of chemotherapy, which ruined his sense of taste and smell and left him unable to eat. He shared that his treatment involved the use of a feeding tube. “The kids were great, but it was hard for them. I had a feeding tube for 6 months. I could barely make it to the twins’ high school graduation,” explained Tucci.
The treatment had serious side effects.
Throughout the treatment, his greatest fear wasn’t death but rather the prospect of a life without taste. “I mean, if you can’t eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy everything else?” he wondered. Because of the radiation sessions, according to Tucci, all food tasted like cardboard “slathered with someone’s excrement.”
Felicity’s support helped him through one of the toughest times in his life.
After his treatments ended in 2018, Tucci began slowly rebuilding his strength and ability to eat, which was “just the most exciting thing in the world” to him at the time.
He added that the support of his wife, Felicity Blunt, was invaluable: “Felicity’s undying attention, affection, and encouragement got me through it.”
He was still recovering while producing his CNN series, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.
Tucci admits that there are some lingering complications from his treatment — some foods still taste “weird,” and spicy dishes are inedibly painful to eat. The star of the food and travel show, Searching for Italy, returned to a fuller lifestyle, enjoying his longtime passion for cooking and making drinks with friends and family.
As he puts it, “A perfect day off for me would be going to the farmer’s market, buying a bunch of food, start cooking, play with the kids. And then have people over for dinner. To me, that’s just a great day.”
Cancer changed his life forever.
Now free of cancer, Tucci noted how the disease had changed his perspective on his own life, saying, “Cancer makes you more afraid and less afraid at the same time. I feel much older than I did before I was sick. But you still want to get ahead and get things done.”
What do you think of Stanley Tucci’s journey? Feel free to share your touching stories about fighting diseases in the comments below!