If there is one star who epitomised the 'Stand up to Cancer' message tonight it is ER star Maura Tierney who has been so honest about the impact on her of the deadly disease.

The Boston Irish actress lost her father to the disease and shortly afterwards began to fear she had it herself in her breast.

"I was so, so scared of going to the doctor. I felt something, and my boyfriend at the time made me go. He said, ‘You’ve got to take care of this,’ because I was afraid,” she told Parade magazine. “That’s one thing I will say: Don’t be afraid to go to the damn doctor. Just go!”

It was a more aggressive kind of cancer than they thought,” she says and explains how a decade earlier doctors wouldn’t have been able to see a difference. “He said they would have patted me on the head and told me, ‘You’re cured,’ and I would have died of breast cancer.”

“I was so lucky,” shesays of her cancer treatment. “I had insurance, I found a great team of doctors at UCLA, and I could afford not to work while I was getting treated. From the beginning my doctor told me, ‘You’re going to be okay,’ and I chose to believe him. So there was always that in my head.”

“The truth is, I had my surgery, and I have two more months on this one drug. I haven’t figured out where I want to focus my energies to help others, and I don’t know what kind of wisdom to drop on anybody yet — except for, you know, they can help people now,” she says. “I feel an immense sense of gratitude, but sometimes I think there should be room for more gratitude [in me], because I can still be bitchy in the morning…”