NEW YORK (AP) — Italia Ricci plays a twenty-something journalist who is battling leukemia on ABC Family's "Chasing Life." It's not an easy role, the actress says.
"I just feel really guilty when I get to come home and not have cancer and all of the people who have cancer can't turn it off," she said in a recent interview. "It just doesn't feel fair and so that hits me harder than what I have to work out on (the) set."
"Chasing Life" returns with the second half of its first season on Monday (9 p.m. EST).
The 28-year-old says playing April Carver has given her perspective and reminded her of the saying, "pick your battles."
"I get to look at life as if the stakes are that high for me," she said. "It does take all the trivial things that I would at one point get worked up about and be like, 'So not worth my energy.'"
"Chasing Life" is adapted from the Mexican series "Terminales." Ricci said she hasn't watched the show because she doesn't want it to influence her performance.
She also didn't want to take on too much information at the beginning of filming because her character doesn't know anything about cancer when she is diagnosed.
As April learned, so did Ricci. She spoke with doctors, nurses, caregivers and loved ones of cancer patients.
Ricci said of her character: "I think she's accepted that she can't be in control of everything all the time. That's been her biggest development."
She also talked to an aunt of her fiance. "She has survived breast cancer multiple times," Ricci said.
"I sat down with her and she just liked changed everything and gave me the most amazing advice and description, and it was really helpful."
Matthew Zachary, founder of Stupid Cancer, an organization that helps provide awareness, information, support and research about young adult cancer, says the response to "Chasing Life" from the cancer community has been "overwhelmingly positive."
He said ABC Family, the show and Ricci have taken the depiction of cancer very seriously and the character of April Carver has become a catalyst for social awareness.