Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Wendy to marry Belfast partner before she dies

Wendy Richard with partner John Burns

The Belfast-born partner of Ex-Eastenders star Wendy Richard has spoken of the emotional turmoil her cancer has brought to their life together.

Richard — famed for playing grumpy housewife Pauline Fowler in the long-running soap — revealed at the weekend that she is dying of cancer and will marry her long-term partner John Burns before she dies.

The 65-year-old actress told the Sunday Express newspaper she has written her will and planned her funeral after being diagnosed in January with an aggressive form of the disease that has attacked her kidney and spread to her bones.

Twice-married Mr Burns (45), who has two teenage daughters, said Ms Richard was “one of the funniest, wittiest people I’ve ever known”.

The Belfast man said: “It will be one day when we can hopefully put Wendy’s illness to the side because it has been a very turbulent time. All we have had recently is bad news.

“There haven’t been many opportunities for laughter lately. It has just been one depressing phone call after another. And this puts a strain on everything.

“Even though we don’t argue a lot you find yourself squabbling over silly little things that we never did.”

And Ms Richard herself was complimentary of her partner of almost 13 years, saying: “I have to say he has looked after me marvellously.”

The star has twice been diagnosed with breast cancer.

She said: “I went for my usual annual check-up and they found that some cancer cells had returned in my left armpit.”

The actress, who rose to fame playing Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served?, explained that despite being treated for the cancer it has spread through her body.

She added: “The drugs I was given to help had an adverse effect.

“If anything, they did more damage than good so my health has really deteriorated.

“Now I have a cancerous growth on my right kidney and the cancer has spread to my bones.

“Twice I've had breast cancer but this is different. It's more aggressive this time, unfortunately, and has spread to the top of my spine and left ribs.”

She added: “My oncologist said I've got several useful years ahead of me but since then it's got worse.”

The couple will marry this week before Ms Richard starts chemotherapy treatment on October 13.

She was awarded the MBE for services to television in 2000.

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