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Stanley Tucci Opens Up About His Cancer Battle

“I just wanted to get better”

Actor Stanley Tucci loves a great meal. It’s a passion he’s explored both on camera and off.

But Tucci nearly lost his ability to eat when he was diagnosed with oral cancer nearly three years ago, which he revealed in his new book Taste: My life Through Food. During that time, he not only lost his sense of taste and smell, but his mouth became so ulcerous that he was on a feeding tube for six months. 

“I was so afraid. I thought, ‘Well, I’m never going to be able to eat again. I’m never going to be able to share a great meal, cook a great meal with my family and friends — that is really my life,’” Tucci tells Katie in the latest episode of Next Question. 

Listen to the episode here:

Luckily, Tucci’s cancer didn’t metastasize and he’s now in remission, but he still suffers from the effects of his radiation treatment, including difficulties swallowing and the inability to eat certain things, like spicy foods or even a simple sandwich. 

“I still don’t have enough saliva,” Tucci explains. “So you can’t just sort of go, ‘Oh, I’ll eat that sandwich’ —  you know, eating that sandwich takes quite a while.”

All these health struggles, of course, had a huge impact on Tucci’s role as host of the hit CNN food series, Searching For Italy, which was filmed just six months after his cancer treatment. He said he couldn’t always swallow, often having to take a moment during filming. “I would turn myself away and have to take something out of my mouth, because I was going to choke on it,” he says. 

To this day, he admits that he doesn’t know how he made it through the experience, but he credits his wife, Felicity Blunt, for helping him persevere. “I just wanted to get better,” he recalls. 

This also isn’t Tucci’s first experience with cancer: In 2009, he lost his first wife, Kate Tucci, to cancer, a loss he says “you never get over.”  Listen to this episode of Next Question with Katie Couric for more.