Best known for her role on television's "L.A. Law," Jill Eikenberry's current role is that of breast cancer activist. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984, it was her fear that she could die from breast cancer that spurred Eikenberry not only to make major changes in her life, but to share the results. Often partnered by her husband, actor Michael Tucker, the two have been named official spokespersons for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a national organization dedicated to the advancement of breast cancer education, research and treatment.
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Jill Eikenberry had finished her second year as an anthropology student at Barnard College when she changed direction and auditioned for the Yale School of Drama. She was accepted into the three-year program and suddenly found herself on the road to being an actress. In 1970, she began performing at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where she met and fell in love with Michael Tucker. They moved to New York City to work together in a Broadway show, and two years later were married.
In the summer of 1984, Eikenberry and Tucker were cast in two episodes of the hit drama "Hill Street Blues." This on-screen pairing led to their casting in the long running series "LA Law." Just before moving to Los Angeles to begin shooting, while Eikenberry was performing her first very informal breast self-exam, she felt a lump. Her doctor confirmed breast cancer and recommended a mastectomy. Although Eikenberry had intended to keep her diagnosis a secret, she told a friend whose mother had fought, and won, her own battle with the disease years earlier without a mastectomy. Eikenberry sought a second opinion. Lumpectomy and radiation therapies were recommended, and her breast was saved.
In 1989, Eikenberry co-produced and hosted an NBC documentary, "Destined to Live." It featured interviews with cancer survivors, including First Lady Nancy Reagan. Through her involvement with the project, Eikenberry faced her crisis and changed her life. It was the face-to-face confrontation with her mortality, her fear that she could die from breast cancer, that brought Eikenberry not only to make major changes in her life, but to share the results.
Eikenberry, often partnered by her husband, is now a breast cancer activist. Their efforts have been extensively recognized with awards and commendations. They are the official spokespersons for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a national organization dedicated to the advancement of breast cancer education, research and treatment. Eikenberry has discovered that through sharing her experiences and being an exponent of constantly improving health, that life can be vibrant and full of self-discovery. She was installed into the Cancer Survivors Hall of Fame in October 2000.