Marissa Jaret Winokur on Cancer Battle: Everything Happens For a Reason

07/20/2009 at 03:00 PM ET
Roger Karnbad/Celebrity Photo

For Marissa Jaret Winokur, it’s either go big or go home. After winning a Tony Award in 2003 for her performance in the Broadway musical Hairspray, she turned her attention to waltzing her way into the hearts of America on Dancing With the Stars, where she was eliminated after a nine-week stint on the show. Although she may not have won the prized disco ball trophy, Marissa took home a different grand prize only months later: her baby boy Zev Isaac!

The journey to motherhood was not an easy road for Marissa. After being diagnosed with cervical cancer during her time on Broadway, she was forced to let go of her dreams to become pregnant. Despite the rough patch in her life, however, Marissa refuses to dwell on the past; Instead, she often gives thanks for where she is today. “If it weren’t for being sick when I was 28, I wouldn’t have my husband [Judah Miller] or Zev, so I wouldn’t change anything that’s happened in my life,” she says.

“Obviously when it happens you’re like, ‘Why me? Why is this happening?’ But for me, Zev is the reason why.”

With actress Sarah Jessica Parker recently welcoming twin daughters through the use of a surrogate, Marissa reveals she is “totally” able to relate to the negative press the Sex and the City star has received, having been through the situation herself. “I think some people believed, ‘Oh well, Sarah didn’t want to carry a baby and get fat,’ or that she chose the easy way out,” explain Marissa. According to the 36-year-old, the reality of the situation is far from the public’s assumptions.

“I don’t think people realize that when you have someone else carry your child, it’s a last resort. I would have loved to carry my son. I would have loved to get fat. I wish I could have been pregnant…but it wasn’t an option. I’m sure it was the same for Sarah.”

Click below to read about the family’s move from New York to Los Angeles, and about the possibility of a second child!

Things have settled in at a comfortable pace for Marissa, Judah and their baby boy, who turns one this week. With Marissa hosting Dance Your Ass Off, the threesome packed up and headed out to Los Angeles and, while “New Yorkers hate hearing this,” she laughs “the transition was easy!” That said, pleased that the family has traded in the city streets for a spacious backyard, the devoted mama can’t help but admit the Big Apple will always be home. Fortunately, when they all make the trek back to the East Coast for a visit, Marissa makes sure they visit all the landmarks!

“Sad to say, we hit every tourist sight possible. We came at Christmastime last year and did all that stuff. The Rockefeller tree lighting, the windows. But Zev was only four months old and it was freezing. I’m excited to come back in September so we can go to Central Park.”

As for more children for the couple, Marissa has recently had a change of thought! While she would have ruled out the possibility of adding to the family only a few short months ago, since then, Marissa has envisioned making Zev a big brother. “That’s definitely a long, long, long conversation with my husband,” she says of becoming parents again. “We can’t get pregnant by accident! It would have to be a very planned pregnancy.”

If the couple do decide to take the plunge and have a second child, Marissa reveals that they may choose a different path other than a surrogate mother. While she insists she is “definitely not opposed to trying a surrogate again,” the Broadway star has also considered adoption. “Babies are babies,” she states.

“I think if you want to be a mom, there’s always a way.”

Source: Time Out Kids

— Anya

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 17 comments

Olexis on

I love her. And Zev is just too cute!!!

Sandra on

What a great inspiration! Zev is so adorable!

Lisa on

This is going to have a lot of comments. What she said was so well said. She is a survivor and an inspiration. She is soo in love with Zev and her views on babies and life is beautiful!

Ashley on

She say Zev just the way it looks right? Not like Lev which if actually pronounced Lef?..How old is he now anyway I can’t find it in the article. He’s bout one something right?

Sabina on

Not sure who she is, but she sounds like a wonderful person – and her boy is absolutely adorable🙂

meghan on

I love Marissa. Knowing all that she went through to get to this chapter in her life, seeing her joy makes me smile.

Emily on

I love what she said. I think it’s nobody’s business how someone’s child comes into the world. Whether through adoption, surrogacy, ivf, egg or sperm donation, these are personal decisions that each person makes for him or her self. Who are we to comment or judge someone for their reproductive choices?

Sarah M. on

Ashley – It says in the post that he is 1 this week.

I LOVE Marissa and her views. She seems like a very down-to-earth person who is beyond in love with her son and husband! And Zev almost always seems to have a smile on his face. I love that!!

Mia on

Yes, Zev is pronounced like “Zev” no “f” sound. I hope to see them become parents again. Congrats on their expanding family, however they choose to do that.

Does anyone know how she met her husband, she mentioned it was related to her diagnosis.

I also believe everything happens for a reason. Her son is so cute🙂

JC on

I agree with her and the whole people that attack people who adopt or have surrogates and try to act like they know the situation and what lead them to that.

TC on

Please don’t take this the wrong way because I’m simply curious and don’t remember reading this anywhere else. Did she use her egg(s)? Or because of her cancer was that not possible? Zev looks soooo much like her that I have always wondered.

jamie on

I was wondering also if she used her eggs or not. I know it doesn’t matter (she IS the mother), but I’m just wondering how that works. Same with Sarah.

CelebBabyLover on

TC and Jaime- I believe Marissa has said that Zev is biologically hers and Judah’s. Also, Zev looks just like her!

michelle on

I believe she used her eggs, so did SJP. (SJP said she had issues maintaining a pregnancy, not getting pregnant.)

With cerival cancer, they usually remove the cervix and part of the uterus, but leave the ovaries intact. If she had any sort of chemo or radiation, they might have retrieved the eggs prior to her treatment and had them frozen…although the is a better survival rate if they are fertilized before being frozen. My guess is that she still has ovaries, but no uterus.

Sanja on

Yes, she used her own eggs. She has ovaries, but had to have her uterus removed because of the cancer.

Patrice on

“I don’t think people realize that when you have someone else carry your child, it’s a last resort”

Although my heart goes out to any woman who has suffered through Cancer (my Mom being one of them) I hate it when people say things like this. I am thrilled for Marisa that she was able to become a mother, but no one forced her to do so in this manner. Using a suurogate, much like every other decision we make in life else in life, is very much a choice.

Patrice on

Emily: Because every choice that each of us makes (private or not) does effect the society we live in . Whether or not it’s positive or negative, every action effects something else. It’s not about judgement.

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