Actress Sharon Case may be an expert on gutwrenching storylines, but that didn’t stop fans from reaching out to her via social media after the episode of THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS aired in which alter ego Sharon found a lump, which was later diagnosed as breast cancer. “The fans’ comments were so lovely,” she marveled quietly to Soaps In Depth. “Everybody shared their personal stories, and it was kind of a bonding experience. Everyone’s lives have been touched by cancer in some way.”
Given the emotional component of a cancer storyline, Y&R warned Case about it before she received the first script, so she wouldn’t be caught by surprise. Still, the Emmy winner said that she hasn’t done any particular research on the subject. “I’m playing out what I’m given on the page. The decisions on Sharon’s medical care and how they’re going to go about treating her will be decided by the writers and their research. But anyone can relate to a scene where Sharon makes that phone call to her doctor about finding a lump or the worry that you will have very bad news as you wait for the test results. We’ve all been in terrible situations of one kind or another — or you certainly can imagine them. I try to keep that in mind. And I’ve always loved playing great drama. I have been given so many wonderful stories to play over the years, but I’ve never had a cancer story before. I’m just glad to have such a big story!”
Life-changing events can sometimes bring out different sides of a character. Case believes that viewers may see Sharon display a heretofore-unknown strength. “Obviously, Sharon is incredibly broken because of this diagnosis, but she is a survivor. In my personal experience, when you get news like this, you become even stronger and better, because you work really hard every day to make sure you get through it!” she said. “You become more grounded and less fearful when you have to overcome obstacles in life, whether that’s a health crisis or another kind of crisis. Sharon’s already been through a lot. I do think all these things that we go through in life change us — we grow wiser, more sturdy, more focused. They change us — but in a good way!
“Sharon views this as a journey,” she continued. “It’s awful, and she doesn’t like it, but her attitude is, ‘This is what life has handed me, and I’m going to work on it, plug away until I can beat it.’ She’s not going to roll over and go to bed and not care. Sharon has a lot of reasons to care — her children and her love of life. She’s not going to give up!”
It’s common to watch cancer storylines on TV where the patient goes through the traumatic scene in which they lose their hair because of chemotherapy. Yet Case said that not everyone responds to chemotherapy the same way, and she doesn’t know if Sharon will be dealing with that particular issue. “Everyone seems to become nauseous from the treatments, but not everyone loses their hair. It’s what dramas always do when they tell this story, but I’d be happy to play the other side of it. I’d like to represent the people who had different symptoms and tell the story a little different, because that other side to the story [with patients losing their hair] has been told many, many times.”
That said, Case confessed that she has “no, nada, zippo clue on what’s ahead. I only know what I shot up to today. Sharon’s family is rallying around her, and they all take a strong attitude with her, which is a huge relief for her. When someone is sick, they don’t want to worry about the people around them so they can just focus on getting better. I actually don’t know what the outcome of this story will be, but I love that Sharon’s whole family is there, supporting her!”
For more from your favorite Y&R stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine