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Saturday, October 17, 1998 Published at 04:28 GMT 05:28 UK


Paul McCartney joins breast cancer calls

The couple's 30-year marriage was one of the strongest in the rock world

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, whose wife Linda died of breast cancer in April, has urged women to have regular checks for the disease, even if it means being "fussy".

"The thing about breast cancer is the earlier you catch it the better," the multi-millionaire pop star told The Sun.

[ image: The death of Linda has raised awareness of breast cancer, say charities]
The death of Linda has raised awareness of breast cancer, say charities

Last month celebrities including the prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell helped launch a breast cancer awareness campaign. Its purpose is to make women "enlightened, not frightened" of the risk of the disease.

Sir Paul said: "Unfortunately, in Linda's case, we really got to it too late. Although she had two-and-a-half years of treatment, it turned out there was nothing much we could do about it."

"So the trick for all women is to get checks, and to think about things like mammograms, even though you think you may be being a bit too fussy."

The couple, who had three children together, announced in December 1995 that Lady McCartney had breast cancer. Linda also had a daughter Heather from a previous marriage.

In March the cancer was found to have spread to her liver and she died at the family ranch in Arizona the next month.

Her ashes were scattered on the family farm in Sussex.

The newspaper quoted Sir Paul talking about his relationship with Linda, a photographer and animal rights campaigner, who grew up in New York State.

"As a wife, Linda was the best that anyone could ever want.

[ image: Sir Paul: Guilt over wife's death]
Sir Paul: Guilt over wife's death
"Linda was there for me all the time. She was comfortable, she was never difficult. She was one of the kindest people."

Linda Eastman and Paul McCartney were married in a London registry office in March 1969 - almost two years after the couple met at the launch of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

In a second interview, The Daily Mail quoted Sir Paul as saying that one week before Linda's death, he knew his wife only had days to live, but did not tell her.

"I was the only one who knew. One of the doctors said she ought to be told but I didn't want to tell her because I didn't think she'd want to know."

'My guilt'

Sir Paul said the loss of his wife of 30 years hit him so badly he sought professional help.

"I got a counsellor because I knew I would need some help. He was great, particularly in helping me get rid of my guilt.

"Whenever anyone you care about dies, you wish you'd been perfect all the time. I wasn't. That made me feel very guilty after Linda died."

[ image: Linda was criticised for her work in Paul's first post-Beatles band Wings]
Linda was criticised for her work in Paul's first post-Beatles band Wings
In a third interview, Sir Paul talked about each song on Linda's first solo album, to be released later this month - a project they worked on together until shortly before her death.

"When she died, I thought I've just got to do it now. I've got to mix it, I've got to carry on and promote it.

"It is Linda's record. It's the stuff she's been working on since the early 1970s."

She wrote 13 out of the 16 tracks, sang vocals on them all and played instruments.

He defended Linda against the "ignorant" critics who said she was not musical when she went on tour with his first post-Beatle band Wings.

"She got criticism for anything she did," he told interviewer Jools Holland.

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