Carol McGiffin 'still loves a party' after breast cancer treatment
Former Loose Women presenter Carol McGiffin has spoken about her gruelling treatment for breast cancer and said she does not regard suffering from the disease as "a battle".
"I never thought about it in those terms. Yes, it can become a fight if you think you might lose it but, for me, it was always just about getting better," she said. "Although of course it wasn't pleasant."
In an interview with Closer Magazine's New You supplement, she revealed her treatment consisted of a mastectomy followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and 15 rounds of radiotherapy.
She finished treatment in December last year, and in April this year, went on a holiday to Malaysia with her fiance of six years, Mark Cassidy.
"I'd thought that as soon as I finished the treatment it would be like 'whoosh, I feel all right,' but it took a long time," she says, "I've never looked forward to a holiday so much but, in hindsight, I still felt rough. I'm feeling well now, but in six months I might be feeling even better. That would be nice."
In June last year she had a three-hour operation to remove her left breast.
She said: "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 into it."
She and Cassidy spent a lot of time in the countryside while she was being treated, as she'd made the decision not to tell too many people about her cancer.
"I didn't want to talk about it all the time. 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."
"Mark adapted to the situation in a way that couldn't have been better. We couldn't go out, so we didn't. He went out with his mates a few times to let off some steam, but he never wanted to leave me on my own - I had to make him go! Of course it changes things, but we got used to it."
She says she asked Cassidy to shave her head once she started losing it from the chemotherapy.
"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!' For me, it seemed the natural thing to do because when big chunks of your hair come out, it looks scary."
Even though she is cancer-free now, she has to go for check-ups every six months and for mammograms. She says she is not sure yet whether she'll have a breast reconstruction done, but is meeting with a surgeon soon.
"I don't know whether I'll have it done. I miss wearing my matching posh underwear, but I'm used to the way I look now. I still wear bikinis, I just choose ones that aren't low cut. The scar has healed very well and you can hardly see it. It's the lack of symmetry that bothers me, not the scar."
She went on to say: "Right now, I can't face more surgery."
She and Cassidy are planning on saying 'I do' at some stage, but until that time, she's relishing being able to 'go out and enjoy a meal with friends', and added: "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!"
:: Closer's New You special is free with this week's magazine