Former Casualty star Amanda Mealing has revealed her young son helped her shave her head when she began treatment for breast cancer.
The actress and director says she first learned she had breast cancer a day after her son Otis, now 19, was born.
She believed her head-on attitude to the disease was essential to her recovery. “My approach was, I didn’t want this cancer to invade my life as it was already invading my body,” she said. “I had very young children at the time, I wanted the beauty of childhood to carry on around them. Even down to my hair, as it started to fall out, I didn’t want it to shock my son, so we went off into a corner with Papa’s shaver, and I got my boy to shave my hair so he was part of the game. Mama having no hair wasn’t shocking to him, it was part of a joke, it made it fun. In those instances where you have young children, try and involve them, don’t think you’re protecting them by lying.”
Amanda, 54, is a spokesperson for breast cancer health service GenesisCare and is anxious to use her voice and get the awareness message to other women.
She reveals she found a pea-sized lump in her breast during her first pregnancy and dismissed it as a temporary condition, something that would disappear after giving birth.
“Even though that’s the breast cancer I had, had I done something about it when it was a pea-sized lump, I could’ve had the lump removed, probably. My treatment would not have been as extensive as it was. I know a lot of the time our fear – with any illness – is to ignore it,” she told Metro.
“I don’t want other women and men to have to go through what I did unnecessarily. I didn’t need to go through what I did but, saying that, if that does happen to you, I’m here nearly 19 years later and I’m privileged to share that.”
Her message to other women was to face their anxiety, see their GP if they have concerns and realise that losing their hair or breasts is “nothing” if that meant staying alive.
Amanda said: “If I had the lump taken out I would’ve had very little other treatment and I wouldn’t have had to lose my hair! I’ve come across women who have had a diagnosis and not wanted chemo, because they didn’t want to lose their hair. I tried to be really gentle [to the woman] and talk her through it but, in the end, I said ‘What’s the point in having hair if you’re not here?’.”
Amanda left the role of Connie Beauchamp on the BBC1 drama in March and has since been busy directing episodes of Coronation Street for ITV.
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