Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty has said that her heart sank on hearing the news her fellow Big Brother contestant Jade Goody had died.
Goody was accused of bullying and racism towards Shetty during their time on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, but they were reconciled when they met in Mumbai on the Indian version of the show last summer.
It was then the 27-year-old, who died on Sunday morning at her home in Upshire, Essex, received news that she was suffering from cervical cancer.
Shetty said the mother-of-two had won the support of many people by the courage she had shown battling the disease.
The actress said on her blog: “Jade put up a brave fight, lost her battle with cancer but won many a heart with her courage and how she dealt with it.
“My heart sank on hearing the news, but in hindsight I was glad she wasn’t in pain anymore and passed away peacefully in her sleep.”
The 33-year-old added: “She truly has brought awareness for cervical cancer and I hope young women learn the importance of getting smear tests done regularly to diagnose any early symptoms.”
Yesterday, scores of people visited Goody’s home to leave flowers and cards. Many of those who made the journey also left soft toys and balloons outside the house.
Shetty had planned to meet Goody after she flew to London last week but was unable to see her because she was too ill.
Other housemates who met Goody on Bigg Boss, India’s version of Big Brother, added their tributes in interviews.
Actress Sambhavna Seth told news channel NDTV: “I am speechless, I don’t know what to say. I had heard a lot of controversies about her, but when I met her I found her to be totally the opposite. She was a nice and friendly woman. I always trusted her because I looked at her as a very honest lady.”
Bollywood actress Payal Rohtagi, who was also on Bigg Boss, recalled the moment the former dental nurse received news of her illness on the show.
Rohtagi said: “She (Goody) came out of the confession room crying. We thought it was just some sort of gimmick because having Jade on an Indian reality show was in itself a big thing.
“But when we realised the truth (that she had cervical cancer), we were all crying. We broke down because by that time we had become familiar with her loving nature.”
Politician Sanjay Nirupam, another contestant in Big Boss, described the news as disheartening. He said: “I pray to God to give her children the life that she wanted them to have.”
Goody planned her funeral before she died early on Sunday. It will be held on April 4 at St John’s Baptist Church, in Buckhurst Hill.