The 'Private Practice' star has a reason for advocating annual health checkups

By Christian Holub
September 18, 2017 at 08:34 AM EDT

Kate Walsh recently popped up in Cigna’s latest TV Doctors of America ad, bringing her Addison Montgomery realness to bear while reminding viewers to get their annual health checkup. The ad was a fun spot, with other appearances from Patrick Dempsey, Donald Faison, and Neil Patrick Harris, but it turns out Walsh had personal reasons for participating. The actress revealed to Cosmopolitan that she had actually been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. Because doctors caught the tumor early on, they were able to successfully remove it in surgery, which showed Walsh the benefits of preventative care.

“Go see a doctor!” Walsh said. “We’re all so socialized to try to self-diagnose, like, ‘I’ll change my workout, I’ll change my diet.’ I’m very proactive and willful and independent, and in the past, even though I played a doctor on TV for years, I was not one to go see doctors very often, other than for my annual OB-GYN appointment. So for me, it was a really big wakeup call to do annual checkups, and that’s why I wanted to pair up with Cigna for this campaign. I love the idea of changing the framing around healthcare, and changing it from a reactionary thing — ‘Oh my god, I’m sick, I have to go to the doctor’ — to something more along the lines of preventative care.”

Walsh also admitted that years on the Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice hospital sets didn’t stop her from feeling nervous about her real-life surgery.

“You’d think that after playing Dr. Addison for the better part of a decade, where I spent more time on a hospital set than at my house, that I would feel somehow more comfortable, but I was such a little scaredy-cat,” Walsh said. “In the hospital, I felt like I might as well be six years old. My mother gave me rosary beads, my friend gave me a stuffed animal to go into surgery with… I played a real badass on TV, but when it comes to being a patient it’s such a vulnerable experience.”

Read the full interview here.