Catherine Zeta-Jones struggled to cope with Michael Douglas' cancer diagnosis: "I was a mess"

Catherine Zeta-Jones struggled to cope with Michael Douglas' cancer diagnosis: "I was a mess"

Despite all the highs and lows in their relationship, the actress said there's one secret to their enduring marriage.

"With any relationship, it wouldn't be normal if there weren't any ups and downs," Catherine Zeta-Jones once said. And without a doubt, Zeta-Jones and her long-time husband, Michael Douglas, have certainly had their fair share of ups and downs. But one thing never changes in their relationship no matter what, and that's the "love and respect" they have for each other.

Among all the challenges they have had to overcome together, the period where Douglas was diagnosed with cancer seems to have taken quite the toll on the power couple.

"When Michael was diagnosed with cancer I really thought, 'You are going to have to wipe me off the floor,'" Zeta-Jones recalled while speaking to Stella magazine, according to E!

"This happens to people all the time, but it's still a huge shock when the cards start to fall and you realize, 'My God, it really is happening to us,'" Zeta-Jones continued. "I thought I didn't have the tools to cope. But it's amazing where the strength comes from—from family and friends, from strangers supporting us."


While speaking at a medical event in 2014, Zeta-Jones admitted that her award-winning husband's diagnosis left her feeling immensely distraught. "I was a mess. I'll be quite frank, I was a mess. When I'm married to a man who has such a conviction for life... he fights to make the wrongs right. For the first time he was fighting for his life," the actress said at the event.

Although she was distressed, she would find Douglas keeping it together as he went through his treatment. "He's a very matter-of-fact person," Zeta-Jones said. "Once he was diagnosed he was like, 'Okay, what do I do?' He basically wanted that thing out of his body so he just blitzed the [sucker]. It was very intensive... but he still retained his sense of humor."


By 2011, Douglas announced that he was cancer-free. But next came Zeta-Jones' turn to heal, and she began receiving treatment for bipolar disorder.

"I'm not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops. But with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it's completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it," she told InStyle, as quoted by E!

Zeta-Jones admitted that her husband's cancer diagnosis acted as a trigger. "When you get sideswiped like that, it's an obvious trigger for your balance to be a little bit off—not sleeping, worry, stress. It's a classic trigger," she was quoted saying.


After she began receiving treatment, the couple began spending more and more time apart. In August 2013, they confirmed that they were taking a break from their relationship, but the two couldn't stay apart for too long and were seen together in public just months later.

The two have remained inseparable since then and their marriage, which began in 2000, seems stronger now more than ever.

When she spoke to WSJ Magazine about the secret to their enduring marriage, the actress said, as quoted by PEOPLE, "The constant is love and respect. We've never, ever lost our sense of humor, and we enjoy each other's company... We respect each other's space, and our humor is just long-lasting."

Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Rich Polk

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