Rita Wilson: ‘In Some Ways Cancer Was a Blessing’

Rita Wilson and her husband Tom Hanks are in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Hanks was filming a movie in Australia when they contracted the virus. Prior to that, Wilson recorded an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show where she performed her song “Throw Me a Party,” which she says was inspired by her battle with breast cancer.

Cancer research fundraiser: Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson | Morgan Lieberman/FilmMagic

The Kelly Clarkson Show broadcast Wilson’s episode on April 7. Wilson discussed the inspiration for “Throw Me a Party” with Clarkson. She was frank and open about her cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Rita Wilson survived breast cancer

Wilson and Hanks met making the movie Volunteers. They have appeared in other movies together like Sleepless in Seattle and That Thing You Do! Wilson has also been in movies like Now and Then, Runaway Bride and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and launched a recording career. In 2015, she received a frightening diagnosis.

“You hear the words that you never ever think you’re going to hear or ever want to hear which is that you have cancer,” Wilson said. “I found out that I had breast cancer and had a bilateral mastectomy. I’m a survivor sitting here today talking to you.”

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks had “very serious discussions” just in case

Wilson said facing cancer made her wonder about the future. She fought cancer but the uncertainty made her prepare for the worst.

“It was so interesting because when you’re going through something like that and you really don’t know what it’s going to be like and how it’s going to turn out,” Wilson said. “You don’t know if you’re going to be sitting here, and you have kids, I wanted to have these very serious discussions with my husband.”

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks | Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

First, Wilson wasn’t going to deny that the prospect was sad.

“I said to him, ‘Look, if something happens and I should go before you, then I just want you to know that there’s a couple things that I want. One is that I want you to be super sad for a really long time.’” Wilson said.

“Throw Me a Party” was Wilson’s idea

In thinking about how they might handle her potential passing, Wilson wanted there to be a celebration.

“The second thing was that I wanted a party,” Wilson said. “I wanted to have a celebration and I wanted to have a lot of singing and dancing and people telling stories, to feel like that was being celebrated.”

Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Wilson teamed up with Kristian Bush and Liz Rose to write “Throw Me a Party.”

“The song came out of that,” Wilson said. “I had the title and wrote it with Liz and Kristian.”

How the cancer scare was a blessing

Wilson said since her battle with cancer, she had had more zest for life.

“I have to say in some ways, I don’t know if there are survivors or people who have had struggles in the audience, in some ways cancer was a blessing. It really taught me to live every moment to the fullest and every moment as if it was your last. We don’t know what tomorrow brings. We have to be able to live and go out today going wow, okay, I did it. I did everything that I wanted to do. I lived the life that I wanted to live today.”

Rita Wilson on The Kelly Clarkson Show, 4/7/2020