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Ruttan recalled the immediate effect of the series on her life. The day after the series premiered on Oct. 3, 1986, she went to lunch with a friend and noticed that people were looking at her when she walked through the restaurant. “It was like at that moment, you kind of feel your world shift,” she reflected. “It was incredible because people loved my character. People automatically liked me.”
Bochco wrote the parts of Ann and Stuart for Eikenberry and Tucker. But the couple nearly didn’t do the series after shooting the pilot because Eikenberry discovered after it wrapped that she had breast cancer. “When I got the diagnosis, Mike called him and said we can’t do the show because Jill has cancer,” Eikenberry said.
Though she didn’t have to have chemotherapy, Eikenberry did have to undergo radiation treatments. Bochco made sure she could continue on the show, working it out so she could leave the set at 5 p.m and go to UCLA for her treatments. Two years later, Eikenberry revealed publically that she had had breast cancer.
“People were no longer afraid to go public,” said Tucker to his wife. “You really led the way with that.”