Cindy Herrmann, Chicago Fire
Credit: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC via Gett

Life imitates art. Robyn Coffin’s cancer storyline as Cindy in Chicago Fire comes at the same time another actor in the One Chicago franchise is battling cancer in real life.

Chicago Fire is NBC’s drama series following the professional and personal lives of firefighters, rescue personnel and paramedics of the Chicago Fire Department’s fictional Firehouse 51. Robyn Coffin plays Cindy Herrmann, the wife of senior firefighter Christopher Herrmann, who is played by David Eigenberg. The couple share five children together: sons Lee Henry, Luke, Max and Kenny James, and daughter Anabelle. (Kenny James was born in season 1.)

After more than a decade on Chicago Fire, Cindy was diagnosed with lung cancer in season 11, episode 11, sparking anger from fans. “Chicago Fire, what we are NOT gonna do is play with Cindy,” Twitter user @aaryannax tweeted in March 2023. “If Chicago Fire kills Cindy, I will R I O T,” Twitter user @ohshlebs tweeted in January 2023. “if something happens to cindy … chicago fire count your fucking days,” tweeted Twitter user @_ayannaaaa tweeted in March 2023. “Cindy getting lung cancer is the meanest thing Dick Wolf has done to Chicago fire since killing Otis,” Twitter user @smcleod6 tweeted in March 2023. Read on for what we know about Cindy on Chicago Fire so far and how Robyn Coffin’s cancer storyline comes at the same time as another One Chicago actor’s real-life cancer battle.

Does Robyn Coffin have cancer like Cindy in Chicago Fire?

"Chicago Fire," Cindy

Does Robyn Coffin have cancer like Cindy in Chicago Fire? The answer is unclear. Coffin is one of the more private cast members of Chicago Fire. Her Instagram, which is under the handle @coffinbird, is private. “Actor. Teacher. Laugher. Dancer. Fun seeker. Bowie lover. Person,” her Instagram bio read at the time of Chicago Fire season 11. Her Facebook profile, which is under the handle @robyn.coffin.9, is public, however, there is nothing that indicates she has cancer like Cindy. “Actor at DDO and Chicago Fire. Instructor/Coach at Vagabond School of the Arts,” Coffin’s Facebook bio read at the time of Chicago Fire season 11.

Coffin’s Facebook lists her job as an “Instructor/Coach” at the Vagabond School of Arts in Chicago, Illinois, and an actor with DDO Artists Agency based in Los Angeles, California. The agency also represents Jake Lockett, who plays Sam Carver on Chicago Fire; Adrienne Lewis who is a casting director for Chicago P.D.; and Rian Sheehy Kelly, who plays Dr. Liam Larraby on Chicago Fire; and Mickey O’Sullivan who plays Detective Tom Doyle on Chicago P.D. Coffin’s most recent post on her Facebook was a photo of her for her birthday around February 1, 2023.

While it doesn’t seem like Coffin has cancer like Cindy in Chicago Fire, there is another actor in the One Chicago universe who shares a cancer journey with their character. In an interview with People in September 2022, Marlyne Barrett — who has played nurse Maggie Lockwood on Chicago Med since season 1 — revealed that she was diagnosed with uterine and ovarian cancer two years after Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer in season 5 of Chicago Med. Barrett — who shares twins Joshuah-Jireh and Ahnne-N’Urya with her husband, pastor Gavin Barrett — revealed that she was diagnosed with uterine and ovarian cancer after doctors discovered a football-sized tumor on her uterus and left ovary in July 2022.

“I’m an extremely private person, but I felt a responsibility to tell my story,” Barrett told People at the time. “When my character went through breast cancer, I had a sea of people reach out to me through social media. They brought me courage, and so I felt a sense of inevitability to meet their hearts where they met me.” She continued, “We as human beings are so scared to face the mortality of life, or to even pronounce the word cancer. But we have so much more strength inside of us than we think.”

Maggie Lockwood, Chicago Med

Barrett — who is also best known for her role as Nerese Campbell in The Wire and has no family history of either uterine or ovarian cancers— explained that her cancer journey started in the summer of 2022 when she started to feel ill after a hernia operation in April 2022. “I had this accumulation of fluid [in my abdomen] that I couldn’t shake,” she said. “I looked like I was nine months pregnant. And I also had shortness of breath, but no pain, which was interesting.”

Doctors informed Barrett on July 18, 2022, that she had a mass on her ovary and uterus. “The initial experience was a shock, a shock to my womanhood,” she said. “I didn’t believe them, but when they showed me the CT scan, I went, ‘Oh my word.’ The first questions were, ‘Am I going to live?’ I just fell into my husband’s arms. It still takes my breath away when I think about it.”

The doctors informed Barrett that she would need “aggressive” chemotherapy before undergoing a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. “The best way I could experience was to meet it,” she said. “There’s no running from it because it’s my life. And eventually you just surrender because it’s so much bigger than anything you’ve ever faced. I found this courage and I just hunkered down and said, ‘I’m going to face this.'”

Barrett was also prepared to lose her hair. “I didn’t want to give the power to chemo,” she said “My hair has always been an essence of beauty. But I took my own razor and I shaved my head. I did it in front of my babies so they’d see it was still Mommy. I wept, I wept, I wept. But it was a beautiful experience to do it in front of them.” Barrett has also had the support of the Chicago Med cast and crew. “I’ve had people shave their heads on set to support me,” she said.

Barrett also explained how filming has changed for her since her diagnosis. “I start an hour earlier to get my bearings before I start my day,” she said, adding that she takes naps and occasional days off to maintain her energy levels. “Because of the mass, my mid-range is a different size, so the costume department does an incredible job. Interestingly enough, my character on the show already wears a wig!” She continued, “work brings me a lot of joy right now. It brings me a lot of reprieve to think about something other than, ‘When is my next chemo shift?’ and ‘How am I going to hug my children?'”

At the time of her interview with People, Barrett was preparing for her third round of chemotherapy at City of Hope in Los Angeles, California. “I have a wave of emotion that comes,” she said, adding that she was taking her diagnosis “one day at a time. “But it’s OK not to have it all together. You can’t tangibly hold onto fear. But I’m holding onto faith.”

In Chicago Med, Barrett’s character Maggie Lockwood — an emergency department nurse at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center — discovers she has breast cancer in season 5, episode 1, “Never Going Back” after she gets a mammogram and learns she has metastatic adenocarcinoma. The season follows Maggie as she undergoes chemotherapy and loses her hair, which forces her to start wearing a wig.

What happened to Cindy in Chicago Fire?

"Chicago Fire," Cindy

What happened to Cindy on Chicago Fire? Cindy Herrmann, the wife of senior firefighter Christopher Herrmann, discovered that she had lung cancer in season 11, episode 11, “Guy I Used to Know.” In the episode, viewers learn that Cindy had been suffering from a cough and a fever for a while, which resulted in her struggling to take care of her five kids and her house with Herrmann.

During the episode, Herrmann checks on Cindy to learn that her illness had only become worse. Cindy tells Herrmann that she plans to see a doctor. The episode ends with Cindy seeing a doctor and learning that she has lung cancer, despite never smoking a day in her life. “And I’m a firefighter. I go into smoke and chemicals all day. I’m the one that’s supposed to get lung cancer. Not her,” Herrmann says in the episode.

In season 11, episode 12, “How Does It End?”, Herrmann calls his family to the table to tell them that Cindy is undergoing a procedure. Cindy tells her children that she has a tumor in her lung and that the doctors want to remove it so it doesn’t spread. Herrmann reminds their kids that Cindy is tough and will survive. During Cindy’s surgery, Chief Wallace Boden surprises Herrmann at the hospital and waits with him. After Cindy’s surgery is done, doctors tell Herrmann that Cindy is doing well and made it through the surgery, though they weren’t able to get the margins clean and she still had the cancer in her lymph nodes, so she still needed chemotherapy and radiation.

Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Check out our photo gallery of Chicago Fire stars and their real-life relationships.