Debbie Rowe now starts her day with a “cup of coffee,” a list of “things to do,” a positive attitude and three simple words: “I got this.”
Michael Jackson’s ex-wife and a mother of two, Debbie is currently undergoing chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. She recently sat down with ET’s Kevin Frazier, where she got candid on her treatment and how her and the late singer’s 18-year-old daughter, Paris, has become her No. 1 support.
While speaking with ET, Debbie, 57, reflected on the exact moment she learned she had cancer, which she says she discovered “in a different way than most people.” Because she was seeing a new doctor, Debbie thought she was just going in for a “baseline ultrasound,” when a technician revealed the heartbreaking news.
“I had the ultrasound and they said, ‘Where are you having problems?’ And I said, ‘I’m not having problems,'” she said, adding that her doctor later told her, “I’m sorry you found out that way.”
“[My doctor] told me it was going to be a bumpy ride, and to bear with him,” she continued. “And it was. I had more biopsies, and more tests, and ultrasounds, blood work and things like that. But I didn’t expect — this is a lot to go through. And that was before they [even] did the lumpectomy.” Dr. Motlagh found Rowe’s lump and she was later referred to Dr. Greg Senofsy as a surgeon
Debbie told ET that she reconnected with Paris following the diagnosis. She said her daughter has continued to be her “rock” and a tremendous support throughout the ongoing process.
“She’s my rock, she’s amazing,” explained Debbie, who also mothered a son, 19-year-old Prince, with the late King of Pop. “She’s been with me the whole time. She was there. First phone call, [it] took her 30 seconds [to reach out] when she found out.”
Debbie notes that every day is a struggle — “you have to work very hard to get up every morning and do this” — but because of Paris, she has “a reason” to get out of bed and start each day with a smile. The mother-daughter duo recently snapped a photo inside the hospital together, a picture Debbie says means “everything” to her.
“For her to kiss my bald head,” Debbie began, “[her love] is pretty unconditional.”
Prior to their reconciliation over the summer, it had been several years since the two were photographed together, the last time being in Palmdale, California, over Memorial Day weekend in 2013. Now, Debbie says her relationship with Paris is “awesome.”
“I can’t tell you how much I love her,” she gushed. “We go for sushi, we talk about music, and we text all the time.”
The former nurse also told ET that if it weren’t for her friends, Michelle and Amber, she’d “probably be dead” because she “wasn’t making sense to anyone.” She also credits her team of doctors and cancer hair loss consultant Amy Gibson for helping her through the trying time.
“Chemo does its best to make you lose your femininity,” she said. “You lose your hair, you lose your eyelashes, you lose your eyebrows. And what a lot of people don’t realize is, that when I take this [wig] off, I’m still me. I’m still feminine, I’m still a woman, and above all, I’m still human.”
Debbie confessed that once she learned she had cancer, her first thought was, “What about my hair?” She told ET about the doctors who have been there for her throughout her battle, including Dr. Motlagh, who found her lump, her surgeon Dr. Greg Senofsky, her oncologist Dr. Rena Callahan, Kidney MD Michael Shye and her nurse practitioner, Cynthia Carsten.
Tune in to ET tonight to see Debbie candidly remove her wig, which she named Ursula, and hear her thoughts on how she thinks Michael would react to her cancer if he were still alive today.