Actress Jill Ireland, national crusade chairwoman of the American Cancer Society, announced Friday she has suffered a recurrence of the disease but vowed to continue to lead the crusade.
Ireland, 52, underwent a mastectomy four years ago and wrote a best-selling book, "Life Wish," about her battle with cancer.Because she did not want readers of her book and thousands of other cancer victims to lose hope on hearing second-hand that she had suffered a recurrence of a malignancy, she called a news conference to confront it face-on.
"It would not be fair to all those gallant people who have heard me speak or read stories about me, or read my book, for me to attempt to hide the fact that I am once more undergoing treatment," she said.
"The cancer is a localized malignancy in my lymph nodes and is being treated by radiation," she said.
"It feels strange making an announcement like this, but I can't help thinking that somewhere at this moment there is a woman going into surgery to undergo the same operation I had four years ago, feeling the same terror. I don't want her to lose faith."
Ireland said she will continue to work while undergoing radiation treatment every day for the next five weeks.
She has completed a second book, "Life Lines," to be published next March and will begin taping a syndicated television talk show, "On the Move," which she will host for King World. The show is scheduled to be broadcast this winter.
"I want to be as visible as possible so that other cancer victims will take heart," Ireland said. "And maybe it will help reduce the prejudice some employers feel about hiring cancer victims."
Ireland said she was terrified at learning earlier this week the cancer had recurred.
"I had less than a year to go to be in remission," she said. "But I plan to fight back just as hard this time as I did the first. Fear is a great energizer. I just hope I prove to be more aggressive than the cancer."
Ireland, married for 20 years to actor Charles Bronson, has made more than 20 motion pictures, mostly with her husband, such as "The Valachi Papers," "Hard Times" and "Death Wish II."