Chandra Wilson's Real-Life Fight Against Cancer
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Chandra Wilson's Real-Life Fight Against Cancer

She plays a doctor on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, but Chandra Wilson's commitment to finding a cure for breast cancer is far more personal than that. Chandra Wilson tells FITNESS why she's committed to fighting cancer, why following a healthy lifestyle is important, and how she stays fit.

Why She Is Committed to Finding a Cure for Breast Cancer

FITNESS: Breast cancer touches many women's lives in some way. How has it affected yours?

Chandra Wilson: I have a terrible amount of breast cancer in my family. Many aunts succumbed to the disease, and other family members have had it. So when ABC told me about Lee Jeans' raising money for the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Program with Lee National Denim Day, I said, "Sign me up." In my first year as spokesperson I plan to be a very vocal supporter of the cause.

FITNESS: So breast cancer was a concern for you, even when you were a kid?

Chandra Wilson: For as long as I can remember. All of my grandmother's sisters died from the disease. As a child, what that meant to me was that you went from being healthy to dropping a lot of weight, you lost one breast, if not both, you stayed in bed, and you felt pain that seemed to last an eternity.

FITNESS: How important is following a healthy lifestyle to you?

Chandra Wilson: One of the best pieces of advice I got came from a girlfriend who is a breast cancer survivor. She didn't eat processed foods, she rode her bicycle everywhere, and even she got cancer. You might think, What good does it do to try to be healthy, then? But her doctor told her that because she was in such good shape, she would have an easier time with chemotherapy. That's important, because the treatments your body has to withstand can be the most brutal part.

FITNESS: How do you stay fit?

Chandra Wilson: Right now, my exercise routine is about 45 minutes a day, five days a week. I'd love to increase that. I do mostly cardio -- I'm focusing on taking off the extra pounds around my stomach, since carrying weight in the midsection is a health risk. Usually, I walk on the treadmill at home, sometimes using three- or five-pound weights. I'd like to eventually get back to classes at the gym, because I feel a different momentum when I'm surrounded by other women working out. But realistically, that probably won't happen until my son, Michael, who's 3, is in preschool. Meanwhile, I squeeze in workouts when I can. I'm not so much concerned with slimming down for my appearance as I am focused on my health: It's about being conscious of how I treat my body and what I'm putting into it because those things have a huge effect on my energy level.

Support Chandra's Mind, Body, Spirit Charity

On October 3, 2008, Lee Jeans hosts one of the largest single-day fund-raisers for breast cancer research. Women are asked to form teams with colleagues and friends and wear denim to show solidarity in the mission to find a cure. Participants can make a $5 donation to Lee National Denim Day: Proceeds benefit the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Programs fund.