Belfast Telegraph

I'm dying of cancer, says TV soap star Wendy Richard

Former 'EastEnders' star Wendy Richard is dying of cancer and will marry her long-term partner before she dies.

The 65-year-old actress said 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.



The star, who played Pauline Fowler in the BBC1 soap opera, 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 had spread throughout 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.''



Ms Richard, who was given the all-clear from cancer after her second bout in 2002, received the diagnosis in January when doctors at her annual check-up found cancer cells in her left armpit.



Speaking of the moment she received the news, she said: "I was absolutely raging, hopping mad to have to go through it all again.



"You think, 'Oh, crikey, here we go again', but you just have to buck your ideas up and get on with these things'."



The last few months have been tough for the actress, who is in constant pain and suffers from nausea. She has endured pain in her left arm since contracting lymphoedema -- localised fluid retention -- the second time she had breast cancer.



Wendy will marry her partner, John Burns, before starting chemotherapy treatment on October 13. She has been married three times before and has been living with John, who is 20 years her junior, for over 10 years.



Mr Burns, who has been married twice before, said: "There haven't been many opportunities for laughter lately. It has just been one depressing phone call after another."

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