Eileen Grubba, an American actress best known for her roles in many hit TV series, including Sons of Anarchy, Cold Case and The Closer, is not just a talented woman. She has also survived two life threatening illnesses, showing unimaginable courage and strength of character. This year she is the USA #GetFit Ambassador, supporting the GE Healthcare campaign to encourage people to reduce the risk of cancer with healthy living and exercise.
Eileen’s story is about overcoming obstacles. At the age of 4, she fought a deadly form of polio which threatened to put her in a wheelchair for life. Against all odds and with great perseverance she forced herself to walk again, enduring many surgeries, but recovered and went on to become an award-winning cheerleader and accomplished actress.
Her second major life challenge came in her early thirties when Eileen was diagnosed with Thyroid carcinoma, the same cancer that took her father’s life just a few years earlier. This was a tremendous shock. Eileen had witnessed BOTH her parents lose the battle against cancer despite their bravery. She was angry to have to face another painful battle, and was scared after seeing what happened to her parents, but she also knew it was time again to rise and fight.
Eileen assembled an army of allies and friends that she could count on for support, and traveled to the best doctors she could find, to battle the disease with surgery and treatments. “Today, 9 years later, I still have the same amazing people around me, and I am thriving”. Unfortunately, Eileen learned her battles are far from over. Last year another daunting challenge arrived. Eileen was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, the same genetic predisposition that caused her mother’s Ovarian cancer, and puts her at high risk for many aggressive cancers. It was a difficult diagnosis to accept, but Eileen keeps on fighting. She is determined not to let cancer take her down, regardless of genetics. So far, she and her doctors have prevented any further incidences. Because cancer survival is an ongoing journey, she fuels her body with healthy food and regular exercise and surrounds herself with positive people. Every day she searches for more cancer fighting foods and recipes. “For the last two years, NOTHING but healthy, nutritious food has gone into my body.”
The most important thing for her is making the most of every single day and pursuing her dreams. Her advice for cancer patients comes from experience. “Fight it. Get up and go find a way to fight it. Pull your resources together, turn on your happy music, find a way to stay upbeat, and know that you can affect the outcome. I think a lot of people don't realize that it's just another battle. They get scared, negative, and very sad thinking they have no power over this. I think that's the worst place to go. It's understandable, but you are already dealing with enough, so you might as well face it with the best attitude you can to give yourself a chance to survive and live the greatest life possible.”
Today, Eileen continues to hike mountains, eat healthy, follow her dreams, and is an inspiration due to her indomitable spirit and ability to overcome life’s challenges. A fighter all her life, she strives to make a positive difference in the lives of others who are faced with great adversity. She is a spokesperson for Lynch Syndrome, and an advocate for the inclusion of people with physical challenges and disabilities in the Entertainment Industry.
Her extraordinary story, humility and fortitude are the embodiment of what GE Healthcare’s #GetFit campaign is all about.