Vanessa Bayer Says the 'Special Treatment' from Her Childhood Cancer Battle Inspired New Series

"I would sort of capitalize on the perks of having cancer," Bayer admitted of her past, which inspired the plot for her new show, I Love That for You

Vanessa Bayer as Joanna Gold in I LOVE THAT FOR YOU
Photo: Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Vanessa Bayer relied on her past experiences to create her first TV series.

The Saturday Night Live comedian, 40, said her battle with cancer inspired her upcoming Showtime series, I Love That for You — but not in the way viewers might think.

While speaking about the series with Entertainment Tonight, Bayer, who had lymphoblastic leukemia as a child, said there are some "perks" of having cancer that found their way into the series' storyline.

"This character had childhood leukemia and I had childhood leukemia," Bayer explained. "I would sort of use the fact that I was sick to get special treatment and I would sort of capitalize on the perks of having cancer."

The perks were not only beneficial for Bayer, but also to her family, who used her cancer diagnosis to their benefit.

"I would come into school late all the time and the attendance woman would ask no questions," she recalled to the outlet. "I got my dad out of a speeding ticket once because he said he can only think about his daughter who had leukemia and the cop said, 'OK.'"

"My family would use it as an excuse so much," she added. "And we would see if we could get away with it. We called it, 'Dropping the L bomb.' It would really make us laugh."

Though Bayer acknowledged that having cancer was one of the most difficult moments of her life, she said having a positive attitude about the situation helped her, and her family, get through.

"I still loved to laugh," she said. "And I think it was the thing that helped them relate to me and help us just get through this all together."

Vanessa Bayer as Joanna Gold in I LOVE THAT FOR YOU
Nicole Wilder/SHOWTIME

Ultimately, that positive outlook was how Bayer was able to turn the darker aspects of her treatment into a lighter, comedic angle for the new series.

"I thought it would be fun to do something where I explored that element about it," she shared. "We sort of love the special treatment that we get and when that time is over, when people forget about it, we're like, 'Well, where's my special treatment?'"

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I Love That for You will follow a woman named Joanna Gold (played by Bayer) who is aspiring to be a top seller on the home shopping network. However, when her job stability becomes uncertain, Gold claims her childhood cancer has returned as a way to stay on top.

RELATED VIDEO: 'Saturday Night Live's' Vanessa Bayer Opens Up About How Her Childhood Cancer Helped Inspire Her Comedy Career

In addition to her back story, it was the shopping network — and a shared love of the idea between Bayer and co-creator Jeremy Beiler — that formed the show.

"We both realized we both were really interested in this world," Bayer said. "So, we decided to do a show about home shopping together and we realized that putting these elements of my life and having my character have a similar experience would be a great way to build the show."

I Love That for You premieres on Sunday, May 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. The first episode will also be available to stream early On Demand and on the Showtime app Friday.

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