PTR Senior Staff Writer
Ellen Rush lives!
'kay, not really.
But Meredith Baxter IS back - and looking a heck of a lot better than she ever did whilst on Cold Case.
She stars alongside Lesley Ann Warren in the Hallmark Channel Original Movie Bound By a Secret, which premieres this Saturday, March 7th at 9/8c.
The film revolves around two life-long friends, Ida Mae (Baxter) and Jane (Warren), who must take a hard look at their past and make difficult decisions about the future when Jane, a famous soap actress, returns to their hometown after learning she will soon succumb to cancer. Although Baxter plays the role of the loving and supportive friend, she can easily identify with both characters given her own experience as a breast cancer survivor.
“I am a breast cancer survivor, and I’ve been speaking around the country about my experiences for about six years now,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to open up to other survivors.”
It wasn't always easy for her to speak about the affliction, but positive response from family and friends was so great that she decided to take it to the public. She founded The Meredith Baxter Fund for Breast Cancer Research, which supports vital breast cancer programs throughout the United States. Baxter announced that a portion of all profits from her Simple Works line of skin care products, which was initially created to correct her own dry skin problem, would go to the foundation.
“I would be at trade shows to present Simple Works and women – some of them still wearing head scarves because of radiation treatment - would see the pink ribbon and want to talk to me,” she explains. “My first reaction was to close down and not want to talk, but I began to open up, slowly. We’d talk and cry and share stories and it helped me get rid of that shame. It can be a slow process, but I came to learn that healing emotionally is as important as healing physically.”
In addition to understanding the mindset of the cancer patient, Baxter also had a personal experience that allowed her to connect to her character in the film, who watches her dear friend slip away.
“My mother died of esophageal cancer about seven, eight years ago,” Baxter recalls. “And there was one time when she looked at me - I didn’t know she was dying at that point – but she looked at me in a way that was like her eyes were just taking in everything on my face, just making up for lost time. In retrospect, it was the sweetest thing. Of course, at the time, because I didn’t know what she was going through, I thought, ‘Gee, she’s looking at me like she’s never going to see me again!’ Well, she died four months later -– and I get it. It’s the personal connection. There cannot be anything else.”
Today, Baxter says she is stronger for having lived through such trials, and she is a sought-after public speaker on surviving the experiences of breast cancer, substance abuse and overcoming domestic violence.
In addition to her work on behalf of breast cancer awareness, Baxter is a women’s rights and anti-abuse activist and is a member of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. For her work on the TV movie My Breast, she received a special award for public awareness from the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
“We can be a lifeline for each other,” she says of fellow breast cancer survivors, who she encourages to banish the shame and fear and arm themselves with knowledge, a sense of humor and a proactive attitude. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and speaking with other survivors who know what you are going through is a powerful and loving experience.”
Additional Sources: Hallmark Syndicate
Bound By A Secret airs Saturday, March 7 at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel. For additional scoop on the movie, head on over to HallmarkChannel.com.