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Wendy Richard dying of cancer

Guest Dan F

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NATIONAL treasure Wendy Richard has spoken of her heartbreak at being told she is dying of cancer.

In an exclusive interview, the former EastEnders actress revealed how she has written a will and planned her funeral after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease that has attacked her kidney and spread to her bones.

The 65-year-old star, who has twice beaten breast cancer, will marry John Burns, her long-term partner, this week – just days before starting a gruelling course of chemotherapy.

Wendy, who played Pauline Fowler in the soap for 21 years, opened her heart to the Sunday Express in an emotional interview to “set the record straight” on her health and career.

She revealed how she received the shock diagnosis in January, despite having been given the all-clear from cancer after her second bout in 2002. “I went for my usual annual check-up and they found that some cancer cells had returned in my left armpit,” she said.

Wendy was prescribed a course of drugs to help cure the cancer but they only made it worse.

“Sadly, the cancer has spread,” she said. “The drugs I was given to help had an adverse effect. If anything, they did more damage than good so my health has really deteriorated. Now I have a cancerous growth on my right kidney and the cancer has spread to my bones.

“Twice I’ve had breast cancer but this is different. It’s more aggressive this time, unfortunately, and has spread to the top of my spine and left ribs.”

She will start chemotherapy on October 13 but the prognosis is not good. “My oncologist said I’ve got several useful years ahead of me but since then it’s got worse.

“Part of me is dreading the chemo but I’ve got my wig all ready and prepared, because obviously I will lose my hair. Because I’ve never had chemo before they can give me a big dose so I’m hoping that will zap it.”

Speaking of the moment she found out the cancer had returned, she said: “I was absolutely raging, hopping mad to have to go through it all again.

“It has come as a terrible shock and you just get so fed up. You think, ‘Oh, crikey, here we go again’, but you just have to buck your ideas up and get on with these things.”

Although she is trying to be as positive as possible, the past few months have been a nightmare for Wendy, who has been suffering terribly from nausea.

She said: “I’ve had pain for at least five years because the second time I had breast cancer I also contracted lymphoedema, which is in my left arm, so I got used to being in pain through that.

“It’s a dull ache most of the time and you just learn to live with it. But this year the pain has been much worse because it has been in my bones and my kidneys as well.

“Some nights I’ve just wanted to scream the place down. It didn’t matter whether you lay down, stood up, sat down – the pain was just there all the time. At one point this year I was on 11 tablets a day but I’m up to 12 now. And I have to have injections in my stomach every day.”

Wendy went to a solicitor as soon as she was diagnosed because she did not want Belfast-born John, her partner of almost 13 years, to be “left behind with a mess to sort out”.

She explained: “We were going to get married anyway but when we got the diagnosis we decided to push ahead and get married now. There was no rush before.

“I’ve looked at it from both sides of the coin. If I get better, which hopefully I will, all well and good, but, worse case scenario and I do pass away, John is secure because I have made my will and drawn up what arrangements I would like for my funeral and what music I would like played, so I’ve tried to think of everything.”




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This is terrible news. I've been a fan of Wendy ever since seeing her in Are You Being Served? Since she has been through it two times before, one can only hope she can do it again, but it doesn't look like she will :(.

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Poor Wendy it is very sad to see this happen to her.I think also that the eastenders producers were very bad towards the character that Wendy put so much of her life into at the end.Her exit was appalling and very unfair.I hoped she would enjoy a long and happy retirement.At least she got some retirement ,I imagine how she would feel if she didnt have the chance to retire at all and only finished up on Eastenders recently.

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