The This Is Us star said the “prognosis was grim” at first

By Julie Mazziotta
March 27, 2019 11:34 AM
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As Chrissy Metz filmed her latest movie Breakthrough last year — in which she plays a mom relying on faith as her son recovers from a near-fatal accident — she thought back to her own days of prayer in 2017 following her mother’s sudden stroke.

Metz’s mom Denise was rushed to the hospital after a “massive stroke” revealed two large clots in her carotid artery, and the This Is Us star, 38, reflected on those difficult days in a new essay, published Monday in the Christian publication Guideposts.

“The doctor said her prognosis was grim,” Metz recalled. “The stroke was on the left side of the brain. He said he was certain she would have paralysis on her right side and that her speech and swallowing would be severely compromised. ‘You don’t know my mom,’ I said. I looked down at her unconscious form. They said it was unlikely that she could hear me or understand anything, but I refused to believe that. ‘You are strong,’ I told her again and again. ‘You are healing.’ ”

Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty

Metz said she was only able to stay for 36 hours because she had to get back to film This Is Us, but she huddled with her brother and three sisters around their mom before she left, “talking to her, praying.”

The actress said that she was showing her mom “so much love after so much struggle.” Metz recalled her tough childhood when her mom would go hungry to afford food and electricity for her kids.

“Mom remarried and had two more kids. We finally had food in our refrigerator, but I felt as if I had to eat it before it disappeared. Eventually my stepfather would make me stand on the bathroom scale and berate me over every ounce I’d gained,” she said.

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Metz would imitate famous voices to keep spirits up at home, but she said that “with all that insecurity, all that self-doubt, it still amazes me that I made my way out to Hollywood.”

But she did, eventually landing the role of Kate on the hit drama. She was readying to attend the 2017 Emmy Awards with her mom just before she had the stroke.

“My mom didn’t make it to the Emmys red carpet,” Metz wrote. “But to none of our surprise, she made a strong recovery. The swelling in her brain went down without surgery. She went from being bedridden to going to the bathroom on her own in less than two weeks. Soon she was able to put playing cards in order from the king to the ace. After three weeks, she was in rehab, walking so fast that the aides had to tell her, ‘Slow down!’ My mom is back living at home, walking a lot, spending time with her children and grandchildren, entertaining us all and imparting her motherly wisdom.”

Metz said that her experiences helped her through her role in Breakthrough.

“Maybe that’s why I was so glad to play the part of that movie mom in Breakthrough — showing the world what resilience can do,” she said. “It gives you the strength to pray without giving up. To believe when others around you have said you’re holding on to false hope. My own life’s journey has been one of proving others wrong. More important, it has been about proving those negative voices in my head wrong and listening to the voice inside that said I would always be loved.”