Soap star Sally Whittaker has spoken for the first time about her brave battle with breast cancer – and told how it was her three children who helped pull her through her darkest hours.
The Coronation Street legend – who plays Sally Webster – was diagnosed with the killer disease six months ago whilst filming scenes where incredibly she played a breast cancer sufferer.
In an emotionally charged interview with HELLO! magazine, Sally who only now feels strong enough to share her secret anguish, also relives the moment she was diagnosed, recounts the reaction from fellow cast members and reflects on the decision to have all her blonde locks lopped off before it fell out.
Showing remarkable courage, the actress also tells how it was her determination to continue her most important role that of ‘mum’ to her and husband Tim Dynevor three children Phoebe, 15, Sam, 13, and Hattie, six, which has given her the inner strength to fight her breast cancer hell.
Sally, 47, was diagnosed on October 22, 2009 and tells HELLO! that it was only after she and Tim left the hospital that it hit home.
"We got into the car and I cried like I’d never cried before in my life,” she exclusively tells the magazine. “It was uncontrollable sobbing. I didn’t want to die. I would hate to be sat on a fluffy cloud looking down on them. I couldn’t cope with that. I had to be there to see them grow-up."
It was the children that gave her the strength to keep going. She tells HELLO! "Every time the children come in and say: 'oh mum, why haven’t we got any chocolate biscuits?' it snaps me back into mum mode and takes my mind off it, which is brilliant.
"Other times, when I’ve been feeling at my absolute worse Hattie has said to me ‘Oh mummy, you are so beautiful.’ Without them knowing they have got me through it."
Sally says she now has a new outlook on life, telling HELLO! "It’s made my appreciate life more and I feel humbled. Everybody I love, I love a million times more."
And she talks about her decision to have her hair cut off saying: "I asked one of the make-up artists at work to shave my head. A friend who’d had breast cancer warned me the hair came out in clumps so I decided to shave it off at the start of my chemotherapy.
"Tim said I looked beautiful without my hair and that really helped me stay positive too."
She says the rest of the cast were "shocked to the core" and how they have shed tears with her.
As for the future Sally will continue taking the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen and continue to have check ups and is baffled why she became a victim saying: "Who knows what caused it? Is it stress is it pollution? Is it using my mobile phone? Or was it my diet?"
Read the full interview in the current issue of HELLO! magazine, on sale now.