Linda and Anne Nolan open up about their devastating cancer diagnoses

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  • Lockdown was a tough time for everyone but, for the Nolan family, it was utterly heartbreaking.

    Shortly after filming their hit TV series, The Nolans Go Cruising, Anne 
and Linda’s worlds came crashing down when they were diagnosed with cancer within days of each other – seven years after their beloved sister Bernie died 
from the disease.
    Both sisters have battled cancer before. For Anne, 69, this breast cancer news came 20 years after she was first diagnosed with it.

    Linda’s incurable liver cancer has spread from a secondary cancer on her pelvis, which 
was diagnosed in 2017. She 
also battled breast cancer 
in 2006 and cellulitis and lymphoedema in her arm in 2007. ‘I thought my scans would be just fine, as they normally 
are,’ she admitted.

    But while this is, of course, 
a scary time for the whole family, Linda, 61, and Anne are relying on their positive mindsets and famous Nolan humour to get them through…

    A double blow

    Anne was diagnosed first, as Linda recalled to The Sun: ‘On 7 May, our 
sister Maureen called me at 10am to 
say that Anne’s breast cancer had been confirmed. Then, half an hour later, my oncologist’s secretary phoned me to 
say, “We need you to have an MRI 
scan because we’ve seen something 
on your liver.”

    ‘I couldn’t tell anyone then because they were 
so obviously devastated about Anne. I thought, 
“I can’t turn around now and say, actually I’ve got 
it back as well.”’

    Anne, whose breast cancer is stage three, added, ‘My first cancer was diagnosed in April 2000, so it was exactly 20 years on.’

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    Nolan’s go cruising 10pm on Tuesday on quest red

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    Recalling the moment they broke the devastating news to their siblings, Linda said, ‘We laughed and we cried. It’s hysterical. Forget the Chemical Brothers, we’ve become the Chemo Sisters.’

    The pandemic means they haven’t even been able to hug. Linda explained, ‘Now we’re frightened because our immune systems are low, so if we got something infectious or, God forbid, COVID-19, then it would be 
a real battle to stay alive.’

    The added worry of the virus has affected Anne’s mental well-being, too. ‘I’ve had anxiety attacks,’ she admitted.
    ‘They say when you’re having chemotherapy, you can pick up any 
kind of infection and it can be fatal. So 
I think that’s been playing on my mind 
as well. This has broken me down a bit, to be honest. And I think part of it is because I’ve not been able to see my daughters or my grandchildren.

    ‘I’ve not touched them, I’ve not been able to hug or kiss them,’ she added. ‘And I think that’s what makes me more sad than anything.’

    Loss of identity

    Understandably, the sisters’ biggest fear is not surviving the deadly disease. Anne admitted, ‘I don’t want to die. I love my life so much. I want to live for as long as I possibly can. I am scared of dying. Even though 
I believe in God, I’m 
still scared.’
    While Linda added, 
‘I’m scared of dying. 
I don’t want to die. I want to be around to see my great-nieces and nephews grow up, 
and that’s why I’m putting everything I’ve got into trying to get well.’

    Read more: Proud mum opens up about daughter’s cancer diagnosis

    For Linda, losing her hair has been tough to deal with, too – mainly because of the resemblance she sees between herself and their late sister Bernie, who died of breast cancer in 2013.

    ‘How you look is part of showbiz and everybody gets labelled. I was the blonde with the big boobs, so cancer has taken that away from me,’ she said.

    ‘First I had 
a mastectomy in 2006, and now 
my hair, and it’s 
just really hard. 
It’s such a massive part of my identity.

    ‘I look in the mirror now and 
I see Bernie, because I think we’re so alike anyway, and it just brings back all of her trauma and how sick she was.’

    Our thoughts are with you 
all, ladies.