Carol McGiffin has revealed that for the past year she has been battling breast cancer. The former Loose Women star, who finished treatment for the illness just before Christmas, has spoken out about her experience and thanked the NHS staff who looked after her, in interviews with the Mirror and the Sunday People.
"At first I couldn't believe the diagnosis," she said. "With no family history I never thought I would get breast cancer."
Carol McGiffin found the lump while on holiday last year
"I don't want to pretend any more. I kept it a secret because I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I feel it is over now and I've got through it. I just want to be able to go out without my hat on and for people not to be bothered. I just want my life to get back to normal."
Carol went on to praise the doctors and nurses who looked after her at the Royal Free Hospital in London, saying that they "all deserve a medal".
Doctors advised Carol to have a mastectomy because her tumour was grade three and highly aggressive and she also underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Carol McGiffin spoke to her late Loose Women co-star Lynda Bellingham about her diagnosis
The 54-year-old also revealed that she spoke to her late friend and co-star Lynda Bellingham, who died from colon cancer at the age of 66, about her diagnosis.
"It felt really comfortable. She was a bit annoyed I hadn't told her before," she said. "But that was Lynda all over – worrying about others."
Speaking about how her fiancé of six years, TV production accountant Mark Cassidy, has dealt with the experience, she said: "The cancer has not fazed him at all. Mark is very matter of fact and said, 'It is what it is and we will deal with this.' He has been unbelievable really. I've got a right good 'un there."
Carol McGiffin credits her fiancé Mark with keeping her spirits up throughout her treatment
She added: "Mark has lifted my spirits. I sometimes wake up and he is walking around with my wig on. He keeps saying, 'Oh, you've got a great shaped head.' I reply, 'Well, that makes it all right then.' We have a good laugh."
Kent-born Carol is now looking to the future, saying: "Normal service is resumed. If it comes back I'll deal with it. It's not a battle. I just see it as a bit of a health hiccup. For now I'm going to get on with my life and enjoy every minute of it."