Dame Julie Walters reveals bowel cancer diagnosis


The veteran actress was given the all-clear following chemotherapy.

Dame Julie Walters has revealed that she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The Mamma Mia! and Billy Elliot star’s condition was discovered 18 months ago, after doctors found two primary tumours in her large intestine.

The 69-year-old told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show that, following chemotherapy, she had been given the all-clear.

Dame Julie also hinted that her next film, an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel The Secret Garden, could be her last.

The veteran actress first visited a doctor with indigestion and “slight discomfort” but later returned with symptoms such as stomach pain, heartburn and vomiting.

She was referred to a gastric surgeon for a CT scan and later, while on the set of The Secret Garden, received a call asking her to go in.

Recalling the moment of her diagnosis, she said: “Shock. First of all, shock. And I thought ‘Right’. Then you hold on to the positive which was that he said ‘We can fix this’.”

Dame Julie was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer, which indicates the cancer has spread into nearby lymph nodes, and is one level below the most serious categorisation.

The Moet British Independent Film Awards – London

Dame Julie also remembered the moment she told her husband, Grant Roffey, the news.

“I’ll never forget his face – tears came into his eyes,” she said.

Despite remaining upbeat, Dame Julie said she thought “Well, I may not come round from the anaesthetic” while awaiting surgery.

She said she had “30cm taken out of my colon” in hospital.

Her recovery meant she had to be cut from some scenes in the forthcoming film The Secret Garden, where she stars alongside Colin Firth.

Dame Julie said she also missed the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, with her agent telling people she had a ruptured hernia in order to keep the cancer diagnosis secret.

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