UPDATED, 6:50 PM: Stanley Tucci has shed new light on his battle with cancer, describing in great detail how it impacted his work on CNN culinary series, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.
The Oscar-nominated actor’s comments came in an interview with the New York Times published Saturday. In it, he explains how his recovery affected his ability to savor the very dishes he aimed to exalt with his Emmy-nominated travel docuseries, noting that “horrible” radiation treatments resulted in vertigo and mouth ulcers, along with a loss of appetite.
Tucci said that after three sessions of radiation, all food tasted to him like cardboard “slathered with someone’s excremement.” Throughout his recovery, his greatest fear wasn’t death, but rather the prospect of a life without taste. “I mean, if you can’t eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy everything else?” he wondered.
By the time production kicked off on Searching for Italy, he said, he “could taste everything.” At the same time, though, he “couldn’t necessarily swallow.” Sometimes, he’d have to chew food “for 10 minutes” before being able to; other times, he’d have to give up his efforts altogether.
But even if “the smell of food” was at one point enough to make Tucci “want to throw up,” he never considered abandoning his duties as host of Searching for Italy. “There was no way I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “I’ve wanted to tell for a long time the story of Italy and the disparate cuisine in every region.”
Tucci was diagnosed with cancer around three years ago, when a tumor was discovered at the base of his tongue, and has since made a successful recovery. He first came forward to speak about his diagnosis earlier this month, in an interview with Vera magazine.
With his latest interview, Tucci looked to promote Taste: My Life Through Food, a memoir set for publication on Tuesday, via Gallery Books. His other passion project, Searching for Italy, nabbed two Emmy nominations following its premiere in February, and has been renewed for a second season.
PREVIOUSLY, SEPTEMBER 4: Stanley Tucci, whose acting credits include The Hunger Games and Supernova, has spoken out about his cancer diagnosis and treatments in a new interview.
In an interview with Vera magazine, Tucci said he was diagnosed three years ago with a tumor at the base of his tongue. The mass “was too big to operate,,” and could only be treated with “high-dose radiation and chemo.”
Having been through a cancer ordeal when his first wife, Kate Spath-Tucci, had breast cancer more than a decade ago, Tucci was wary of that.
“I’d vowed I’d never do anything like that, because my first wife died of cancer, and to watch her go through those treatments for years was horrible,” Tucci said. Spath-Tucci died in 2009 at age 47.
Tucci shared that his treatment at one point involved the use of a feeding tube.
“The kids were great, but it was hard for them,” he said. “I had a feeding tube for six months. I could barely make it to the twins’ high school graduation.”
Tucci said that his cancer treatment was successful. He said he now feels older from the experience.
“[Cancer] makes you more afraid and less afraid at the same time. I feel much older than I did before I was sick. But you still want to get ahead and get things done.”
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