For five years, Harry Connick Jr. and wife Jill Goodacre have been privately battling a breast cancer diagnosis.
In October 2012, which also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a routine mammogram revealed stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. “They said, ‘Okay, looks good. Since you have dense breasts, just go across the hall for your sonogram,’” Goodacre, 53, tells People, explaining how a lump was detected and biopsied. The results came back with the news she had feared: breast cancer. She was immediately advised to undergo a lumpectomy and begin radiation treatment.
For husband Connick Jr., the diagnosis was scary. The 50-year-old singer and host of “Harry” lost his own mother to ovarian cancer when he was 13. “I was scared I was going to lose her, absolutely,” he confides. “I wasn’t going to let her see that, but I was. I know from losing my mom that the worst can happen. She’s my best friend, and I really don’t know what I would do without her.”
As difficult as the diagnosis was, Goodacre says the hardest part was telling the couple’s three daughters: Georgia, 21, Kate, 20, and Charlotte, 15. “It broke my heart,” the former Victoria’s Secret model explains.
Though she didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy, Goodacre had to have radiation therapy, a second surgery following her first lumpectomy and a five-year course of estrogen modulator Tamoxifen, which helps prevent the development of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. The drug comes with several side effects, including weight gain, which the former model says she struggled with.
“I’ve always been a pretty fit person, and so to be just rounder and heavier and not to really be able to do much about it – that’s been hard. It’s taken a lot out of my self-confidence,” she admits. “It’s a part of how the cancer and the treatment impacted her, and it was a real issue, even though she will always be the most beautiful woman in the world,” Connick Jr. adds.
Now that she’s been in remission for five years, Connick Jr. and Goodacre are ready to share their story outside of the few close friends and family members who knew of her cancer diagnosis.
Goodacre says the decision to keep her health private wasn’t due to “superstitious” reasons. “We wanted to be well on the other side of things before we told everybody. The doctors all say that after the five-year mark, things look optimistic, so we’re starting to feel pretty good,” she tells People. “I’ll always be a little nervous, always having to get checked, always hoping it doesn’t come back.”
The couple will open up about their breast cancer struggle on Thursday’s episode of “Harry” in a candid conversation about the day of her diagnosis and journey to remission. “It’s one of the hardest days of my life,” Goodacre says of their “Harry” conversation. Adds Connick Jr., “All I wanted to do was grow old with you and have as many years as possible as I could with you.”