Dame Julie Walters has spoken for the first time about having been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The two-time Oscar nominee revealed to Victoria Derbyshire that she was diagnosed with stage three cancer 18 months ago, after doctors found two primary tumours in her large intestine.
She has since undergone surgery to remove 30cm from her colon and chemotherapy, and has fortunately now been given the all clear by doctors.
Dame Julie recalled her initial reaction to the diagnosis was simply “shock”, having made an appointment a year earlier, after experiencing heartburn and vomiting.
“I was still thinking, ‘That’s ridiculous, he must have made a mistake’,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it… And then I thought ‘Right’, and then you hold onto the positive because he said, ‘We can fix this’.”
The actress also said that telling her husband of 23 years was an especially heartbreaking moment, revealing: “I’ll never forget his face. Tears came to his eyes.”
"[I felt] shock. First of all, shock”— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) February 20, 2020
Dame Julie Walters reveals to @vicderbyshire she was diagnosed with Stage 3 bowel cancer.
Her most recent scan shows she’s all clear
Watch our full, exclusive interview from 10am on @BBCTwo & @BBCNews channelhttps://t.co/vGdBOxeXOx pic.twitter.com/zXoinVj1Tc
Due to her treatment, a number of her scenes in the new film The Secret Garden wound up having to be cut, and Dame Julie also missed the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!, as she wanted to keep a lower profile, with her agent saying at the time she had a ruptured hernia.
She has now said that The Secret Garden could be her last film role, although she’s not ruling out a return to the big screen completely.
“It would have to be something I’m really engaged with [to take another role on],” she explained.
“I’m not saying I’ll never act again. But I certainly don’t think I can go back to [filming] six days a week, [from] five in the morning till seven o’clock at night.”
Dame Julie ended the interview urging those who are experiencing symptoms to “get things checked”.
“Your bowel is part of your digestive system, it’s just what digests your food. Think of that,” she said.
“Doctors are used to bottoms. They’ve got one themselves.”
Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, has since said: “We are very sorry to hear Dame Julie has been treated for bowel cancer.
“We are incredibly grateful to her for speaking so openly about her diagnosis.
“It’s only by talking publicly about this disease and raising awareness that we can encourage more people to take action if they have concerns.
“Every year in the UK, nearly 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, making it the UK’s fourth most common cancer killer.
“Being aware of the symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis.
“If you or your loved one receive a free NHS bowel cancer screening test in the post, completing it could save your life.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.