Rita Wilson on beating cancer, making music

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- As the wife of Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson wears the mantle of fame lightly while pursuing her own, unique career. A great beauty. The lady has grace and intelligence in equal measure, and a kindness which has endured despite hardship and Hollywood.

"And, I'm grateful," she sings on a song she co-wrote, and her gratitude is all the more remarkable given all that Rita has faced the past two years.

"Having gone through breast cancer and a bilateral mastectomy, I feel that 2 and a half, almost 3 years clean from that experience, every day is a gift," she told me at The Cafe Carlyle where she is performing through October 21st.

The actress turned singer is now a songwriter too thanks to her work on "Grateful." It's from her second album, recorded before her cancer diagnosis, but made more meaningful now thanks to lyrics like, "I'm better off because of what I faced."

"You can get on the other side of it and say, 'wow, if these things didn't happen, if I didn't get through them that way, I wouldn't have learned and it wouldn't have led me to where I am now,' so I'm grateful for all of that," The actress told me.

Her diagnosis came during the run of "Fish in The Dark" on Broadway.

Wilson returned to work four weeks after an operation to remove both of her breasts, and she was, "so grateful to have the show to go back to because it normalized my life, and that was a great thing, but I want to tell women: don't rush things. Don't rush it. I feel like I could have taken more time off."

She drew strength from her family and from her husband.

"Tom was an incredible support, so thankful for that," she said.

Her journey to wellness continues at The Carlyle Hotel.

"Being in this intimate setting so you're actually able to connect with people, and some people know what I've been through and others are new to it. Music is healing. The show really is about that," she explained.

What makes her show so special, in addition to her talent is the intimate setting: not a lot of seats and you're close to the luminous talent of Rita Wilson.
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