Zeta-Jones received her strength to cope with the situation from family, friends, and from strangers who supported them during this rough time.
Michael Douglas was diagnosed with stage-four tongue cancer in 2010. However, due to the stigma associated with the diagnosis at the time, the beloved actor wished to conceal his real condition. In an interview with The Guardian in 2013, the Oscar winner explained that his life-threatening condition was caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which he alleged was transmitted during oral sex.
His cancer diagnosis affected his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones adversely. She told Stella Magazine, "When Michael was diagnosed with cancer I really thought, 'You are going to have to wipe me off the floor. This happens to people all the time, but it's still a huge shock when the cards start to fall and you realize, 'My God, it really is happening to us.' "
She added, "I thought I didn't have the tools to cope. But it's amazing where the strength comes from—from family and friends, from strangers supporting us."
Zeta-Jones was 28 when she met Douglas at the Deauville Film Festival in 1999 and she married him in New York's Plaza Hotel in 2000. She told the magazine, "He's a very matter-of-fact person. Once he was diagnosed he was like, 'Okay, what do I do?' He basically wanted that thing out of his body so he just blitzed the [sucker]. It was very intensive... but he still retained his sense of humor." Chemo and radiation depleted his strength, causing him to lose 40 pounds.
Zeta-Jones said, "He was very open with the children. No secrets—they went and saw him having treatment. Together we all coped with everything. It did make us closer. But I wouldn't wish it on anybody."
Michael Douglas is backing Andrew Yang for NYC Mayor after Yang's WNYC interview where he said ‘cunnilingus should not result in tongue cancer” and that he would do everything in his power as Mayor to ensure it didn’t.— MKupperman (@MKupperman) May 31, 2021
When he received the news of his diagnosis, Douglas was on his way to Europe to promote Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. "There’s no way we can cancel the tour and say we don’t feel well," he said. And that's why he had the publicist state that he had throat cancer. Douglas later said on This Morning, "I said, ‘You’ve just got to come out and just tell them I’ve got cancer and that’s it,’ " per E! News.
Behind the scenes, the actor was undergoing painful radiation and chemotherapy treatment forcing him to suspend production on Steven Soderbergh's years-in-the-making Liberace epic Behind the Candelabra. Douglas went on to win an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance after being allowed to continue from where he left off and finish the film.
Douglas claims that he used the downtime to hone his piano talents and master Liberace's theatrical flair.
Douglas was declared cancer-free in 2011. He told Ryan Seacrest, "Tumor's gone, and this type of cancer doesn't usually come back. I gotta check in every month. I'm so happy to be out. This is our first time out in months and months, and to be able to come to this thing cancer-free is pretty special."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Rich Fury