To celebrate her daughter Josselyn‘s seventh birthday, Samantha Harris threw a Pocahontas-themed pool party at their Los Angeles-based home on September 20. Joined by husband Michael Hess and their 3-year-old daughter Hillary, the family-of-four enjoyed the backyard soiree with close friends and family.
“Jossie has been all about Pocahontas lately,” Samantha tells Celebrity Baby Scoop. “I showed her the movie for the first time. So, we had a Pocahontas-themed pool party. A harder task than one would think as all the products like plates and napkins with the movie characters on it have been discontinued. So I just used solid colored plates left over from years past.”
Guests noshed on a custom-made cake, made with love by a good friend of Samantha’s. The bottom layer was chocolate cake with chocolate fudge, and the top layer was yellow cake with raspberry cream.
“For decorations, we improvised by ordering vivid multi-colored feathers and burlap ribbon, the threaded the feathers through to use as make-shift streamers,” Samantha shares. “We also made Indian headdresses as an art project during the party.”
We caught up with Samantha during the birthday bash. Continue reading about her “sassy” younger daughter, being “cancer free,” and her new online foundation “to inspire positivity in the face of adversity.”
CBS: How is Hillary doing? What is she into these days?
SH: “Hilly is an energetic, sassy 3 1/2-year-old. She has a spirit that captivates and the phrases that come out of her mouth are hilarious and well beyond her years.”
CBS: We were so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis with breast cancer, double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. Did you undergo chemotherapy or radiation? How are you feeling now?
SH: “I did not undergo chemo or radiation. I am thankfully, now, cancer free and will be closely monitored for the rest of my life. I am on an estrogen-blocker called Tamoxifen, and it will be my best friend for years to come! I am feeling great now — back to work, back to the gym and running around with our little girls.”
CBS: As a mother of two young girls, how did you handle talking to them about your cancer diagnosis? Did you tell them about the cancer? How did they handle the news and your recovery period?
SH: “We told them separately and with more information for Josselyn. Essentially, we explained that I needed surgery. Explaining to Joss, doctors perform surgery for usually two reasons. 1) Something in your body isn’t working right, and they go in to fix it. Or, 2) Something in your body isn’t supposed to be there, so the surgeon takes it out. That is what they are doing for Mommy. It is called cancer. There are lots of different types of cancer. I will just fine, but will need to rest in bed for a few weeks. Then I will be back to normal running around with you like I am now.”
CBS: What is your best advice for families who are going through a serious illness? Do you think it’s best to be completely open and honest with kids? Or keep it a secret?
SH: “Every health situation is very personal just like every disease is very individual. You need to do what is right for you and for your family. I was relieved when I went public with my diagnosis. It allowed me to have a support community broader than I ever imagined. The outpouring of love and stories from survivors is what got me through my surgeries and recoveries.
Now, to give back, my husband Michael and I are launching www.GottaMakeLemonade.com — to inspire positivity in the face of adversity. Whether it is from illness, injury, a career low or a relationship disappointment — the site will serve as a forum for people to share stories of taking a bad situation and turning it into something even better. I encourage people to visit the landing page while we are getting the site ready for launch, to submit their stories.”
CBS: Now that you’ve undergone the shocking diagnosis and subsequent procedures, what are some of your reflections on your journey with cancer?
SH: “I have always been grateful for my family and my health, but it is even sweeter now.”