Carol McGiffin has opened up about her gruelling treatment for breast cancer, and revealed how she is reclaiming her life after getting the all-clear. The 55-year-old Loose Women star underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with the disease last year – but despite this, says she doesn't consider her illness as a battle.
"I never thought about it in those terms," Carol told Closer magazine. "It can become a fight if you think you might lose it but, for me, it was always just about getting better."
Carol McGiffin is now cancer-free
In June 2014, Carol had her left breast removed. "I tried not to think about it," she recalled. "If you think about something too much, it becomes terrifying.
"...The chemo was an insurance policy. The first round was a piece of cake, but the effects are cumulative so, by the time you get to the sixth one, you feel absolutely shocking. It knocked me for six, but I tried to carry on as normal. When I absolutely couldn't, I gave into it and in a weird way, I enjoyed giving in to it."
By Carol's side throughout was fiancé Mark Cassidy, who she asked to shave her head when she started to lose her hair, two weeks after her first round of chemo. "Mark offered to shave his head too, but I said, 'Don't be daft – it won't make me feel any better seeing you with no hair!'" she revealed.
"For me it seemed the natural thing to do because when big chunks of your hair come out, it looks scary."
During her treatment, Carol and Mark retreated to a friend's house in the countryside, confiding in only a handful of friends, including Carol's late colleague and close friend Lynda Bellingham.
Carol McGiffin with her fiancé Mark Cassidy
"I didn't want to talk about it all the time," Carol explained. "The more people you tell, the more texts and calls you have to answer. I love my friends, but I didn't want the cancer to take over."
The TV star finished her treatment in December, and is now cancer-free. But she admits she still has moments when she worries about the disease returning. "It does play on your mind," she admitted. "I've got a cough now, and I'm thinking, 'Is it cancer?'
"A few months ago, the tiniest ailment sent shivers down my spine and I'd think, 'This is it, it's coming back', but that fear isn't so bad now."
Carol is now focused on the future, and confirmed that she and Mark will "definitely" tie the knot next year. For the moment though, they are enjoying being a normal couple again. "It's great to go out and enjoy a meal and a bottle of wine with friends without falling asleep at 9pm," she said. "I don't go out as much as I used to, but I still love a party – I'm not going to start knitting yet!"