Ex-Loose Women star Denise Welch has opened up in a heartbreaking interview in partnership with Cancer Research UK about her mum’s battle with mouth cancer.
Denise’s mother Annie was diagnosed with aggressive mouth cancer back in 1991 and given just 12 months to live, but after successful surgery to remove the tumours from inside her mouth, she lived for another 20 years.
‘We lost her five years ago, but she was originally diagnosed with cancer 20 years before she died,’ Denise recalled. ‘The way that it happened with mum was that she just went to sleep and I remember it was very peaceful. She kept coming round – and were there and the kids were there, and we just all really hugged her, and she took her final breath and she was gone.’
‘But it was really quite beautiful in a way, which may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but it was such a close thing that we were all together.’
Denise explains that at the time of her diagnosis, Annie had only one grandchild – Matt Healey, who went on to become the lead signer of the pop band The 1975.
Thanks to the surgery, though, she was able to see the birth of four more of her grandchildren, meet Denise’s husband, Lincoln, and see her overcome her battle with drugs and alcohol, something which Denise is eternally grateful for.
‘The hardest thing about losing mum is just that she’s not on the other end of the phone – she was always my go-to, and I miss her every day,’ she continued. ‘I was lucky to have had the mum that I did, well into my fifties, with someone who had lived with cancer for that length of time.’
‘Obviously if it wasn’t for cancer research, I wouldn’t have had my mum for an extra 20 years, so I feel I’ve got to give back.’
She still remembers her mum fondly, of course, and reminisces about growing up with her.
‘People gravitated toward mum, they wanted to talk to her, they wanted to be with her, and it made me very proud to say, “this is my mum”.’
‘My dad used to say, “she’ll go upstairs looking like the Wreck of the Hesperus and she’ll come down looking like Joan Collins”.’
‘And she did.’
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Denise and her family know all too well how important research is, as it gave them more time with Annie. But research costs money, and to fund it, Cancer Research UK needs support and donations from the public. That’s why Denise is calling on people to opt in to hear from Cancer Research UK about its life-saving work, following its decision to only contact supporters who have given their permission for the charity to do so from 1 July 2017. Visit cruk.org/justatick to opt in to hear about all the work Cancer Research UK is doing, its research progress, appeals and the ways you can support.