‘I’m Lucky’: Cancer Surgery in Midst of Coronavirus Pandemic

By Reuters

  • May 18, 2020

(Reuters) – As Los Angeles begins to emerge from more than two months of coronavirus lockdown, 40-year-old Marisa Sullivan will have surgery this week to remove a malignant tumor from her left breast.

Sullivan’s surgery is set for Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which suspended critical medical procedures for weeks to manage a wave of patients with COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Now hospitals across the country are resuming care beyond the pandemic, introducing new precautions to convince people it is safe to seek treatment. For cancer patients in particular, the risk of contracting the virus in a healthcare facility is a top concern.

Sullivan worked as an events planner before her diagnosis last November with triple-negative breast cancer, an especially aggressive type that does not respond to hormone treatments or genetically targeted therapies. She completed a prescribed chemotherapy regimen in April, and worried that a follow-on surgery to remove the tumor would get delayed.

She now feels fortunate to have access to the care.

“I was thinking all of a sudden I am going to be stuck with a tumor in me in the middle of a pandemic, and surgeries are going to shut down,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview. “I’m lucky I had that May 18 date scheduled. I got it locked in literally last week.”

More than 88,000 Americans have died and over 1.4 million have been infected with the novel coronavirus, which attacks the respiratory system and can trigger an extreme immune response in the most severe cases. People with underlying health conditions, from cancer to diabetes or asthma, are at higher risk of complications or death from COVID-19.

To protect patients like Sullivan, whose immune system is already compromised by her chemotherapy treatments, Cedars-Sinai is conducting surgeries in an annex building rather than the main campus where COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. No visitors are allowed. Two days before the procedure, Sullivan was tested for the virus and the results were negative. 

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She was already well into her chemotherapy treatments when alarm over a U.S. outbreak of coronavirus began to be raised in late February, adding a new dimension to the emotional trauma and anxiety of dealing with cancer.

“I already felt kind of trapped — I can’t travel, I can’t do a lot of things, then all of a sudden the whole world can’t go to a party or go to a bar,” Sullivan said. 

Nurses at the Beverly Hills cancer care center where she received chemotherapy infusions started wearing more and more protective gear – gloves, masks, and gowns. Hugs and handshakes disappeared, then visitors were banned, a heartbreaking change for the elderly and terminally-ill, as well as younger, first-time patients.

For her final infusion in April, Sullivan had planned a small party at the infusion center with a few friends, cake and maybe some unauthorized champagne, but the plans were scrapped as the lockdown rules took effect.

“All of a sudden I was sitting there alone,” she said. “I did still wear a red dress and lipstick – I wanted to feel my greatest.”

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After her surgery, she will find out whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast, into lymph nodes or elsewhere. If all goes as she hopes, the chemo will have done its job to shrink the tumor and all she will need is follow-up radiation. 

Sullivan plans to take a week or two to recover, then will drive cross-country to her mother’s home in Florida, where she has already arranged to undergo prescribed radiation treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Sullivan appreciates that many people will be able to return to a more normal way of life in the reopening, but thinks wistfully of a trip to Paris with her husband that was derailed by the cancer diagnosis.

“Everyone is thinking of living again – traveling, going to a restaurant and having a glass of wine,” she said. “Now my mom’s house is my Paris.”

Check out The NY Times article HERE.

HEALTH NEWSMAY 18, 2020 / 5:06 AM / 3 DAYS AGO

‘I’m lucky’: Cancer surgery in midst of coronavirus pandemic

Deena Beasley

4 MIN READ

(Reuters) – As Los Angeles begins to emerge from more than two months of coronavirus lockdown, 40-year-old Marisa Sullivan will have surgery this week to remove a malignant tumor from her left breast. Marisa Sullivan, 40, poses for a portrait on the roof of her apartment building, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 14, 2020. Picture taken May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Sullivan’s surgery is set for Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which suspended critical medical procedures for weeks to manage a wave of patients with COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Now hospitals across the country are resuming care beyond the pandemic, introducing new precautions to convince people it is safe to seek treatment. For cancer patients in particular, the risk of contracting the virus in a healthcare facility is a top concern. 

Sullivan worked as an events planner before her diagnosis last November with triple-negative breast cancer, an especially aggressive type that does not respond to hormone treatments or genetically targeted therapies. She completed a prescribed chemotherapy regimen in April, and worried that a follow-on surgery to remove the tumor would get delayed. 

She now feels fortunate to have access to the care.

“I was thinking all of a sudden I am going to be stuck with a tumor in me in the middle of a pandemic, and surgeries are going to shut down,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview. “I’m lucky I had that May 18 date scheduled. I got it locked in literally last week.” 

More than 88,000 Americans have died and over 1.4 million have been infected with the novel coronavirus, which attacks the respiratory system and can trigger an extreme immune response in the most severe cases. People with underlying health conditions, from cancer to diabetes or asthma, are at higher risk of complications or death from COVID-19. 

To protect patients like Sullivan, whose immune system is already compromised by her chemotherapy treatments, Cedars-Sinai is conducting surgeries in an annex building rather than the main campus where COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. No visitors are allowed. Two days before the procedure, Sullivan was tested for the virus and the results were negative. 

“I already felt kind of trapped — I can’t travel, I can’t do a lot of things, then all of a sudden the whole world can’t go to a party or go to a bar,” Sullivan said. 

Nurses at the Beverly Hills cancer care center where she received chemotherapy infusions started wearing more and more protective gear – gloves, masks, and gowns. Hugs and handshakes disappeared, then visitors were banned, a heartbreaking change for the elderly and terminally-ill, as well as younger, first-time patients. 

For her final infusion in April, Sullivan had planned a small party at the infusion center with a few friends, cake and maybe some unauthorized champagne, but the plans were scrapped as the lockdown rules took effect. 

“All of a sudden I was sitting there alone,” she said. “I did still wear a red dress and lipstick – I wanted to feel my greatest.” 

After her surgery, she will find out whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast, into lymph nodes or elsewhere. If all goes as she hopes, the chemo will have done its job to shrink the tumor and all she will need is follow-up radiation. Marisa Sullivan, 40, poses for a portrait on the roof of her apartment building, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 14, 2020. Picture taken May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Sullivan plans to take a week or two to recover, then will drive cross-country to her mother’s home in Florida, where she has already arranged to undergo prescribed radiation treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Sullivan appreciates that many people will be able to return to a more normal way of life in the reopening, but thinks wistfully of a trip to Paris with her husband that was derailed by the cancer diagnosis. 


“Everyone is thinking of living again – traveling, going to a restaurant and having a glass of wine,” she said. “Now my mom’s house is my Paris.”

Check out the Reuters piece HERE.

Rising Star Marisa Sullivan: “Why I would like to advocate for earlier mammograms for women”

Authority Magazine

Authority Magazine

FollowMay 15 · 8 min read

I would like to advocate for earlier mammograms for women. Too many younger women are getting breast cancer. I found my tumor at 39 years old but it had been sitting there chillin’ for a couple of years most likely. If I would have found it earlier, my survival odds would be much higher. It’s a matter of getting insurance to approve earlier mammograms, and I know another factor is that there is risk to getting scanned, but it should be a woman’s choice what age she gets a mammogram. There are many women in their 20s getting breast cancer! I think it absolutely has to do with our world (er, country!) and foods getting more and more toxic.


Asa part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marisa Sullivan.

Marisa is an actress and journalist living in Los Angeles. Marisa has appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials, and award-winning independent films. She has worked for top magazines such as Us Weekly, interviewing every celebrity you can think of at all the major awards shows. Marisa’s first big stint on TV was MTV’s Wanna Be A VJ contest on TRL while she was in college.

Photo by Keith DeCristo

Thank you so much for joining us Marisa! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for reaching out! I was interested in the arts at a very young age. I was always singing, dancing and performing growing up. Recitals, gymastics, plays. I was always memorizing my favorite movies. I once made my mom sit down and listen to me recite “The Lost Boys” script off of memory, one of my favorites. I learned every dance move in every Madonna and Janet Jackson video. I dreamed of being on the big screen, classic story. I just always had an itch for a glamorous life. I wanted my life to be what I saw in the movies. Be careful what you wish for! That all changed rapidly as I evolved over the years but those were my little girl dreams.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

The most interesting story that has happened to me since I started my career? You came to the right person! I will write a series on that but some top memories are when I first interviewed Slash at his home, when I got to hand Bob Dylan his guitars for an entire show and hang out with him in between songs, oh and hanging at Madonna’s house a couple of times. She wasn’t there though.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of my first reporting jobs was a trip to Cabo, Mexico on a Carnival Cruise line. I know, pretty rough huh? It was John Mayer’s rock cruise. I was supposed to be turning in my reporting each day but didn’t really get it and didn’t feel like dealing with the WIFI situation. My editors were waiting on reporting and meanwhile I was blacked out winning Blackjack contests on board. I woke up one morning with a trophy, $500 cash and a Carnival Cruise collared crew shirt and a very fuzzy recollection of even winning the tournament. I redeemed myself and turned in some solid reporting. That was very early on, I was working as an office manager at In Touch Weekly. Even if I’d mess up I’d wind up turning in incredible reporting so that was my “in” I think ha!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I just finished a feature film called “I’ll Be Around” that won Best Independent Film at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. And I’m up for Best Lead Actress in a Play at the Valley Theatre Awards in June (it will probably be postponed again) for a hilarious play I starred in called “The Absurdity of Sex” written by Paul Storiale. A dream role for stage for me. Witty, whacky, hilarious, mildly violent. And most recently I joined the 2020 cast of TMI Hollywood doing sketch comedy, which is obviously on hold for a bit but they’ve been finding ways to stay active putting out a daily show on Facebook Live called “TMI Daily” so I’ve been doing that here and there.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have interacted with so many great people but one that just popped into my head was meeting Dave Chappelle at Comedy Central’s Justin Bieber roast and hanging with him. He is one of my favorite comedians and this was right when he came back on the scene after his hiatus. I was there reporting on Biebs, talking to Snoop, Shaq, John Mayer, etc at the after party, it was chill and wound up talking to Dave and had him laughing his ass off which I was pretty proud of (I’m kind of a nut) he just kept saying over and over “Yer fuckin’ funny! Yer fuckin’ funny!” I wound up going with he and his team to a club after but I’m not really into douchey clubs and had to turn in my reporting so I kind of ghosted everybody and went home. See I learned! The next day I had to go get my car at the Sony lot and everyone knew I left my car because I was hanging with the Chappelle crew and they loved it. He was super pro by the way. Nothing frisky.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I would say COVID-19 has taken care of burn out! Everyone is going to be itching to get back to work now. The best way to cope with burn out is balance. I have become a master of balance. Take time for you. Take a bath. Read a book. It’s okay to say “no” or shut your phone off. I lived too many years as a slave to my phone and I’m not doing it anymore. Work-life balance is a must and I think our world will head more into that direction after this crazy experience that we’re all sharing together.

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

For self-care, I’m trying to meditate these days for my mind. I’m not even sure it’s working I just try to do it just in case. I literally just finished chemotherapy, I have breast cancer, so I’m waiting on those glorious words that I’m cancer-free but I won’t know yet for a few more weeks. Heart, I try to stay active and walk a lot but that has been limited due to cancer and COVID. I’m going to ease back into working out with yoga and barre and some walks. I’m going to avoid gyms even if they open soon so I’m thinking about getting my own treadmill. I love Beachbody online fitness. They have tons of different programs. Writing has also helped me a lot during this time. I’ve been getting more into health writing and I’m diving back into poetry and creative writing, my first loves.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Five things I wish someone told me when I first started? Honestly, I was pretty wise beyond my years and grew up pretty street smart so nothing is coming to mind. I don’t follow any rules really and always did what I wanted, you don’t get noticed following rules. That’s my message to everyone starting. I was always outside the box with how I lived my life for the most part.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Life lesson quote, hmmm. I would have to say the good ol’ “do unto others.” Basically just be a good person and if you’re going to do something or say something to someone that you would not want done or said to you, don’t do it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

That’s a great question and yes absolutely. One of my best friends and mentor, Paul Kim. Paul has always inspired me to strive for more and taught me a lot about basic business early on. He gave me my first “real” job outside the bar world when I came to L.A. He has helped me in so many ways and has been a very generous (and hilarious) presence in my life.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to advocate for earlier mammograms for women. Too many younger women are getting breast cancer. I found my tumor at 39 years old but it had been sitting there chillin’ for a couple of years most likely. If I would have found it earlier, my survival odds would be much higher. It’s a matter of getting insurance to approve earlier mammograms, and I know another factor is that there is risk to getting scanned, but it should be a woman’s choice what age she gets a mammogram. There are many women in their 20s getting breast cancer! I think it absolutely has to do with our world (er, country!) and foods getting more and more toxic.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Bono. Obviously I am a big music fan. I met him a few years ago at Bottega Louie in downtown L.A. and I have a picture with him but I would love to really sit down and connect with that dude. He’s such a force.

How can our readers follow you online?

I am on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sullivanmarisa/?hl=enmand I have been trying to keep my website up to date with news http://marisasullivan.com

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

Thank you so much!!

Check out the Authority Magazine interview on Medium.com HERE.

Check out the GRAYSE site HERE:


How Backstage Helped This Actor Return to Acting After Leaving the Business

How Backstage Helped This Actor Return to Acting After Leaving the Business

Photo Source: David Heisler

There’s a simple reason Marisa Sullivan checks Backstage every day: “I don’t want to miss anything cool!” Having left the business for a few years, the Los Angeles–based actor knew exactly where to look for gigs when she dove back in. She just booked the film “I’ll Be Around.”

The film checked her boxes.
“I identify with these characters because I have lived quite a colorful life in the music scene. I’ve always been a bit rebellious and a nonconformist in my own way. They don’t want to bend on their intentions for this project, and I like that.”

Backstage has helped her jump back in.
“The way that the industry is changing has inspired me to keep going. And social media and Skype and video auditions make things easier. I was always a bit too busy, [and] I missed it as a creative outlet.”

Every day holds opportunity.
“Do something to further your career every day, even if it’s just one small thing. Take some photos, film something, send an email, create a reel, take a meeting, promote yourself on social media. Just keep plugging away.”

Her ‘I’ll Be Around’ role is more than meets the eye.
“I’m a die-hard punk rock chick named Rita [in the film]. In the description, [she’s] a scratchy-voiced, aggressively enthusiastic rocker chick à la P.J. Soles in ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.’ I like edgier roles that showcase more of what is inside of me because on the surface, I look fairly clean cut.”

Backstage has allowed her to get a bit more selective.
“I have been continuously updating my photos and adding reels and clips. I like that Backstage screens the projects and that it has so much variety in projects. It’s all about the project—I’m getting pickier!”

https://www.backstage.com/interview/how-backstage-helped-actor-return-acting-after-leaving-business-64725/

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Marisa Sullivan (in Marchesa) at the 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards with fiancé Jimmy Moran, nominated for The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Entertainment Studios Oscar party 2018, wearing GRAYSE

By

 

 

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – MAY 02: Marisa Sullivan attends the 2nd Annual How2Girl Kentucky Derby Ladies Luncheon hosted by Courtney Sixx at the Sixx Residence on May 2, 2015 in Westlake Village, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

 

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – MAY 02: (L-R) Author Liz Crokin, How2Girl / radio personality Courtney Sixx, Marisa Sullivan and Ashley Dillahunty arrive at the 2nd Annual How2Girl Kentucky Derby Ladies Luncheon on May 2, 2015 in Westlake Village, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)