Actress, comedian and author Suzanne Whang passed away on Tuesday at age 56 after battling breast cancer, a struggle Whang opened up about in a 2015 video for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
The interview saw Whang speak about her mental health and cancer battle, sharing that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She got a lumpectomy and made lifestyle changes but felt another lump a year later. She chose not to get surgery and turned to alternative treatments, which she said made her "feel good" but "none of them reversed the cancer."
After a tumor protruding from her left breast became the size of a grapefruit, she decided to get surgery to have it removed, leaving a "crater" that got infected. She underwent an emergency surgery to have that removed, with the intense physical pain from the experience accompanied by insomnia, leaving Whang feeling "crazier" than she had "ever felt."
She shared that one night after, she was with her dog when she "lost it," deciding to kill herself. Ultimately, it was the thought of wondering who would take care of her dog if she was gone that calmed her, with Whang sharing that she went to bed and "for the first time, in three months, I slept."
"The next morning, when I woke up, I realized I didn't want to kill myself anymore," she said.
The actress had back surgery, hip replacement surgery and multiple breast surgeries as a result of her cancer, which had spread to her skull, her lymph nodes, breasts back and hip. In 2011, she was given six months to live. She got cancer for a third time in nine years and said she realized it was time for her to "come out of the cancer closet," making the decision to publicly share her story.
"I received a tsunami of love and support," she said. "I was quite literally loved back to life."
In a post on Facebook announcing her passing, Whang's partner, Jeff Vezain, shared that she had been battling cancer for 13 years.
"For thirteen years she confronted cancer with courage, humor, determination and optimism," he wrote. "She was immensely encouraged by the love of her family, friends and those she had yet to meet. Your kind, loving messages always lifted her spirits. I know she would prefer that her life be celebrated, as opposed to her passing mourned, but I also know how vehemently she disagreed with anyone being told, 'Don’t cry.' So…cry if you will. I’ve been crying a LOT! And laughing…and everything in between."
Whang was best known for her time as the host of House Hunters for nine seasons and a four-season recurring role on Las Vegas. She also worked on Criminal Minds, General Hospital and NYPD Blue and was a comedian, radio host, published author, minister, writer, producer and political activist. Whang was born in 1962 and had an undergraduate psychology degree from Yale University and a masters from Brown University.
Photo Credit: Getty / Maury Phillips