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Cheryl Fergison opens up on her cancer diagnosis

Health and Mental Health

Cheryl Fergison opens up on her cancer diagnosis

Today on Loose Women, former EastEnders star Cheryl Fergison opened up on her 2015 womb cancer diagnosis, after she publicly shared the health update last week.

Speaking to Christine Lampard, Linda Robson, Denise Welch and Kelle Bryan live in the studio, Cheryl explained why she had kept the news private until now: “I kept it quiet for a long time because I had to process a lot of it. Also, in our profession it’s difficult because if you’re not working, then you’re not earning any money. 

“You have to keep working. So, for us, you know, it was putting on a smile once I’d had the operation [and] keep getting well. There was a lot of stuff that was psychologically happening to me at that point, when I discovered that I got it.” 

She continued: “It’s only up until sort of the end of last year that I managed to kind of go enough is enough, now stop this, ‘I need to just crack on’.”  

Cheryl, who has also appeared in BBC One sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo, spoke about why she wanted to go public:

“For me, it’s about letting women know about what they should do with their bodies. We don’t listen to ourselves enough. In general, people don’t listen to themselves enough. As women, we’re so busy dealing with everybody else, we don’t seem to have time for ourselves. So, basically when something happens to you, you need to take heed of it and you need to act on it. I think the thing is, if I hadn’t acted on what was going on with me, I don’t feel like I would have been here today.”  

Cheryl Fergison as Heather Trott in EastEnders / BBC

Describing the symptoms that led to her diagnosis, Cheryl said: “I had a very bad backache and then I started to spot blood. I thought this is a bit strange, because I shouldn’t be doing this at this particular point. I’d have a smear – and that was clear. The smear was clear and then it was about three months later that I got this spotting and I got this backache, and it was terrible in the lower back. And we all think, ‘Oh, I’ve got backache’ and take tablets but this just didn’t feel right.”  

“In my head, I’m thinking you’ve got to go and sort this out. And literally within those three months between having the smear, and going back to the doctor again, getting seen again, having a small biopsy, they told me that I had stage two cancer, in three months. We don’t normally have a smear for another three years so, what I’m saying is, listen to your body, go to the doctor and do it. It doesn’t matter that you’re pestering them, it doesn’t matter because you know yourself and it saves lives.” 

Discussing the psychological impact of the diagnosis, Cheryl revealed to the panel: “It was washing bits of my body that were… Basically trying to wash things away. The thing is, I mean, we all try to control our own body in some way, we all try to do that. But actually, sometimes we can harm ourselves more by trying to do something rather than going to get the help. It wasn’t every day but it was continuous over a period of years.” 

Cheryl went on to say that her husband and son tried to help her stop, adding: “Putting on a brave face to the general public out there, you know, carrying on my daily life, knowing that I was actually hurting myself, harming myself in some way.” 

Cheryl Fergison as Heather Trott in EastEnders / BBC

“You can’t do things yourself, you have to… and this is my thing…  there are not enough groups of people in communities sitting down talking about all of this, getting things out, getting professionals within the community to actually sit down and help people out.”

“[I’ve had] Loads of support, my family, my husband, my lovely husband, my son. Steve [McFadden], Barbara [Windsor] and Linda Henry, and you know, Paul O’Grady, everybody, they were just amazing.” 

Cheryl shared one particularly kind gesture during her treatment: “I remember Babs going to me ‘Come on, you got to come around to my house, to the Mews’. So, we went around there and Barbara and Scott were there… I went to the toilet and I explained everything was going on and I was going to have my operation very soon. I came back and Scott was there with a chequebook and she went, ‘Right, how much are your bills then?’ and she literally wrote a cheque out to help me pay my bills and my mortgage. 

“I just remember, just weeping, and you have people like this and people don’t know the generosity of people and what they do, it’s amazing. I’m forever grateful. Thank you Barbs, thank you Scott, you know Linda, Steve McFadden.” 

Revealing she is now cancer free, Cheryl, who has also featured in BBC series ‘Big School‘ teased a stint in the ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ jungle and said: “I’d been there like a shot!”

Loose Women, weekdays at 12.30 pm on ITV1, STV, ITVX and STV Player

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