Actor Vincent Pastore has gone public with his prostate cancer fight after secretly battling the disease for the past year.
The Sopranos star reveals he was diagnosed with the illness in March, 2013, shortly after landing a role as a mobster in Woody Allen's stage adaptation of Bullets Over Broadway and he was so worried cancer would rob him of his chance to shine on Broadway, he kept the news of his health crisis to himself.
He underwent surgery last July (13) and received radiation treatment at White Plains Hospital in New York between November (13) and January (14), all while attending "physically exhausting" rehearsals for the musical in Manhattan.
Pastore finally decided to come clean about his cancer battle to play director Susan Stroman and he was relieved when she didn't fire him from the cast.
He tells the New York Daily News, "I told her that if she had to get rid of me, to just get rid of me. Instead she started to cry. She hugged me and said, 'I will never get rid of you.' It was an amazing moment that gave me the strength to work even harder."
Pastore has also heaped praise on filmmaker Allen for his support throughout the ordeal and he cannot believe he has since made it to his 100th performance of Bullets Over Broadway, which opened in April (14).
He says, "I kept setting goals for myself during this illness. First, make it through rehearsals. Then to previews. I did that. Then to opening night. I did that. Then to 100 performances, a big deal on Broadway. Now I wanna make it to my 68th birthday, July 14th. Now producers are talking to me about maybe taking Bullets Over Broadway to London...
"Now I can officially say, 'Ok, I'm a proud prostate cancer survivor.' I feel great..."
The actor is now making it his mission to raise awareness about the disease and he reveals his efforts helped one famous pal spot his cancer early.
He adds, "I warned a lot of my friends to go get checked out. One well-known actor did and he caught his prostate cancer in time."