Courtesy CignaIt’s one thing to play a doctor on TV. It’s another to become a patient in real life. That’s exactly what happened to actress Kate Walsh, who played Dr. Addison Montgomery on the ABC dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, two of the most addictive hospital shows on Netflix. She began noticing subtle changes in her balance and coordination along with extreme fatigue in early 2015.
“I knew something was wrong,” says Walsh, who has partnered with Cigna alongside America’s favorite TV doctors (Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Dempsey and Donald Faison) in an ad campaign aimed at encouraging people to get their annual check-ups. “I had just finished a big show working crazy hours, 70 to 80 hours a week, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to be totally wiped out.”
But this fatigue was beyond anything Walsh had ever experienced. (If you feel tired all the time, these medical conditions could be the reason behind it.)
“I’d drink five cups of coffee and still feel lethargic,” she says. “So I changed my workout routine and did more gentle exercise like Pilates and walking my dog, but my balance was off—the right side of my body was weaker.”
By May of that year Walsh began noticing that, while driving, she’d veer to the right and she was getting forgetful.
“I would lose my train of thought and that wasn’t like me,” she recalls. “I’m very articulate and verbal—I was an English major—and I like chatting, so for me to have this problem concerned me.”
She made an appointment with a neurologist in Los Angeles who, in June, ordered an MRI.
“I was scared and thought maybe this was some sort of Walsh family sickness that none of us knew about,” she says. “As a former TV doctor, I thought maybe it was degeneration of the brain or early onset Alzheimer’s.” (These are the early signs of Alzheimer’s to watch for.)
The words “brain tumor” were never in her thoughts—until her radiologist…