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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 00:24 GMT
Celebrity Health - Laila Morse
Laila Morse - EastEnders' Big Mo
Laila's attitude to being diagnosed was 'Just get on with it'
In a series on celebrities and their health, the BBC News website talks to EastEnders actress Laila Morse about her breast cancer diagnosis.

Laila, 60, who joined the soap in 2000, plays the feisty and dodgy wheeler-dealer, Big Mo Harris.

Before joining the soap, Laila starred in a number of films including 'Nil by Mouth' with her brother, the actor and film director Gary Oldman.

She talks about her illness to promote the work of the charity Cancer Research UK.

HOW DID YOU FIRST REALISE SOMETHING WAS WRONG?

I was gardening and had got all wet. A friend called me in and I put my hands down my front to dry them and I realised that I had a lump.

They call me the 'Iron Lady' at work because I work on
Laila Morse

My friend said I should go and get it checked out, but I said it would just be a mammary gland.

Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler in the TV soap) who has also had breast cancer said I should get it seen to as well. I told her a lie and said that I had been to the doctors and that it was OK.

HOW DID YOU GET DIAGNOSED?

I was on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and when I went to the doctors about these, I said that I had a lump. I was given an appointment at Guy's Hospital.

They took bloods and gave me an X-ray and then told me to come back in a week's time.

When I came back they said it was cancer and that I would have to go in as soon as possible.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE DIAGNOSIS?

I just got on with it. I have never been the sort to say 'Oh I hope I don't get it again'. I have a very positive attitude.

They said it was hormonal and I think it was linked to the HRT, but obviously they would not say that. The doctor did not say it was aggressive and it had not spread.

I was not too bothered about it. My friend cried when she heard the news, but that is not my nature. I just got on with it.

WHAT WAS YOUR TREATMENT?

They said that the tumour was about the size of a half-penny and that I would need a lumpectomy and the lymph nodes taken out.

If I had to have the breast off I would have had the other one taken off too, to match them up.

I was in hospital for a week and then off work for a week. Six weeks later I had radiotherapy. I have had to go for check-ups every six months, but I will be finished sometime this year.

HOW DID YOU FEEL DURING TREATMENT?

I felt OK. I did not need chemotherapy. I am not a lover of injections so I think if I had needed to have chemotherapy it would have been very different. I feel for the people who do need to have chemo.

I felt alright, just a little bit tired. I did not have any side-effects and I still went to work.

I only had a week off work. They call me the 'Iron Lady' at work because I work on.

This week I have busted up my foot. They asked me if I wanted to take time off work, but I told them I didn't. 'I said 'Just send me a cab and you'll have to shoot me from the waist up'.

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW?

I feel as right as nine pence. I have had no problems at all.

I don't even think about it unless somebody else mentions it to me.

When anyone tells me that they have got it I just say 'Welcome to the club.'

WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO OTHER PEOPLE WITH THE SAME CONDITION?

I would just say 'Keep your chin up and keep positive'. Because if you get down in the dumps it is very hard to get back up again.

Cancer is not the end of it, you have got to think of it as just a hiccup in your life and deal with it.


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