Dame Julie Walters at the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2018. Picture: Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images
Dame Julie Walters at the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2018. Picture: Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Harry Potter star’s secret health battle

DAME Julie Walters has revealed her secret bowel cancer battle after she was diagnosed 18 months ago.

The 69-year-old actress spoke to BBC's Victoria Derbyshire, saying she initially thought the doctor made a mistake with the diagnosis, after she attended an appointment for heartburn and vomiting.

"I was still thinking, 'That's ridiculous, he must have made a mistake'. I couldn't believe it," she said.

She then broke the news to her husband Grant Roffey - saying: "I'll never forget his face. Tears came to his eyes."

 

Julie Walters played Ron’s mum, Molly Weasley, in Harry Potter.
Julie Walters played Ron’s mum, Molly Weasley, in Harry Potter.

But the actress, known for her roles in hit movies including Harry Potter, Mamma Mia and Billy Elliot, said she had always held out hope of a recovery.

Describing her own reaction, Julie added: "Shock, first of all shock. And then I thought 'right' and then you hold onto the positive because he said, 'We can fix this'."

As part of her treatment, Dame Julie had about 30cm taken out of her colon and underwent chemotherapy.

She has since said she had a scan and had been given the all-clear after two primary tumours were found in her large intestine.

However, the diagnosis meant she had to be cut from certain scenes in her upcoming movie The Secret Garden.

She also missed the premiere of Mamma Mia 2 - which is available to stream on Foxtel Now - instead telling people she had a ruptured hernia to keep her diagnosis out of the spotlight.

 

The beloved actress said she considered The Secret Garden to potentially be her last role.

She said: "I'm not saying I'll never act again.

"But I certainly don't think I can go back to (a film that requires working) six days a week, five in the morning till seven o'clock at night."

Julie also reflected on her longtime friend English actress Victoria Wood's own battle with cancer, which she lost in 2016.

She said she had realised how "frightened" Victoria would have been with her own terminal diagnosis.

The actress said: "Because at least I could have an operation. She couldn't.

"But the other thing I thought was, 'God, the last time I saw her was in the hospital sitting by the bed … And I had (cancer) at the same time'."

Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep and Julie Walters in scene from 2008 film Mamma Mia!
Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep and Julie Walters in scene from 2008 film Mamma Mia!

The National Health Service has since thanked Julie for opening up about her bowel cancer diagnosis.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer said: "I would like to thank Dame Julie for sharing her story because it's so important for people to realise that if caught early enough bowel cancer can be cured, so going to your GP and getting checked as soon as you have symptoms is crucial."

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission



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