Michelle Stafford’s Blog: Cancer’s Big Life Lesson

11/11/2013 at 02:00 PM ET

Michelle Stafford Blog
With Natalia – Courtesy Michelle Stafford

Thank you for welcoming Michelle Stafford to our celebrity bloggers series.

The two-time Emmy Award-winning actress is best known as Phyllis on The Young and the Restless, a role she played for 15 years.

Now mom to daughter Natalia Scout Lee, 3½, Stafford blogs on everything from body and style to decor and men on her “Doing It as a Single Chick” website.

She is currently the co-creator, co-writer and star of The Stafford Project, a web series that debuted in August. As a tongue-in-cheek depiction of Stafford’s life, the series has been called “terrific and audacious” by TV Guide.

The show can be viewed on her website and on YouTube. Additionally, Stafford, 48, can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Around this time last year, my sister Janine found out she had stage-three breast cancer. A couple of months ago, she was deemed “cancer free.”

She recently had her final surgery. She responded very well to her treatment; we know that we are lucky, that not all stories go this way. She attributes her success to her great doctors and the positivity she received from her family.

“Positivity.” It’s an interesting thing. You can’t pretend it. I believe you either are or you aren’t.

We all believed that my sister was going to get better. There was no other thought. Even in the darkest moments, there was no other thought.

Michelle Stafford Blog
Ready to race – Courtesy Michelle Stafford

During this past year’s journey, I looked very closely at my own life. My entire family was, in a sense, forced — by my sister’s condition — to examine their own lives. My conclusion: Life is a gift. It’s a gift. My question: What are you doing with it?

To me, it’s not about how much money you have or what “important” people you know. It’s not about cars or dresses or shoes. It’s about HOW you are living, what you are doing for others, what you are doing for yourself, what you are creating — what you are doing with this gift of life!

When I looked, I found answers … and frankly, they were bleak. I realized I wasn’t living the life I had wanted. So, I changed things around. Many people were stunned. Some didn’t understand.

I learned that you have got to live a life that is worth something to you. You have got to take chances, you have got to be bold. There are no mistakes. This road we’re on is created by ourselves. It’s either a fun ride or it isn’t. And it’s up to you. No one else decides for you.

Michelle Stafford Blog
Janine and me – Courtesy Michelle Stafford

My sister’s cancer obviously changed her life forever. But honestly, I must tell you, it made me examine my own life and who I am as a woman and human being. It made me more honest with myself, caused me to honestly address the choices I had made. And it gave me courage.

So, my message: LIVE! Take care of yourselves. Love yourselves. Live the life you want. There is no do-over; do it now.

This is just a letter to all of you beautiful, beautiful women. Take an honest look at the life you’re living and then address it. You may be surprised at what you find. You may even be shocked. But I believe you will never be sorry.

Michelle Stafford Blog
With Janine, my mom Paulette and Natalia – Courtesy Michelle Stafford

— Michelle Stafford

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Showing 13 comments

Joy on

great advice and inspiring! Life is indeed too short. It’s important that we embrace life, do what we love and live life with fervour and passion. Kudos to Michelle for following her heart!

Anonymous on

Great article and beautiful words of encouragement

Michelle on

I love her and miss seeing her on Y & R…hope she returns someday….she is a wonderful actress, sister, and mother. So glad Michelle’s sister is doing well….no doubt all the love and support healed her….truly great news.

Barbara on

Michelle, all I want to know is if you are returning to Y&R. No one else can play your part. You are the best. I really don’t want to see a different Phyllis.

I’m so glad your sister beat the cancer.

Deast on

I miss her on Y&R and find myself not watching as often, but I am truly inspired by this women!!! Go Live Michelle you have inspired me to reevaluate my life and encouraged me to go “LIVE”. Thank you for that!

Betty on

Michelle,,, Glad your sister is cancer free, My daughter inlaw had breast cancer also and at present time doing well. But I believe that support for family members is important. Would like to see you back on YR

fedupinsfl on

That’s wonderful news about your sister Janine. Cancer is a very ugly thing to have to deal with. I know because I am a 3 time survivor. The latest was stage 3 colon cancer, before that it was brain tumor that was cancerous, the 1st time was cervical cancer. I never let it win, I stayed strong and always believed I would get better and beat the cancer. I read a book when I found out about the brain tumor and it basically said that the power of positive thinking works wonders. So even though I miss seeing you everyday I hope you have everything you want and need for a beautiful life. Your daughter is beautiful like her Mother, I wish you and your family all the bet life has to offer. Forever a Fan of yours. ❤

weezer on

Word of wisdom for sure. when my dad was diagnosed with cancer it forced me to wake up and not take things for granted. He bravely fought for 9 years until passing in 2010, he didn’t waste a day of that time with ridiculous, frivolous stuff. he was happy just to be alive!!

Cameron on

Love you Michelle

Suzie Wells Smith on

I think I went to high school with your sister, Janine. CVHS class of ’79. So glad to hear she is doing well. My father passed away in 2005 from cancer. Life is a gift and we have to embrace and enjoy every day we have. Please say hi to your sister for me and do come back to Y&R. You were so great as Phyllis!

Julie on

Very inspiring words to remember. Thank you Michelle and I am so happy for Janine and your family!!

sheila on

There was such à big exit for Billy,that those of us who enjoyed you as Phyllis were very confused when it seemed,all of a sudden,you were no longer there.It is true that life very often shakes us up and makes us re-evaluate the life path we’re choosing and where we reallly want to go and how we want to get there.I’m very glad for your life change and that your sister also has another chance to regain hers. Psst. I will miss you as Phyllis.

Janice on

Please come back to Y&R. The tone of show is not the same.