Dame Julie Walters revealed in a new interview that she had stage III bowel cancer and has since been given the all clear.
The Harry Potter star, 69, told the BBC on Thursday, February 20, that she was diagnosed in 2018 after experiencing symptoms including stomach pain, heartburn and vomiting. She was in the middle of filming The Secret Garden when a gastric surgeon discovered an abnormality in her intestine.
“I was still thinking, ‘That’s ridiculous. He must have made a mistake,’” she said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Walters told the outlet that she had “30 centimeters taken out” of her colon during her time in the hospital. An anesthetic helped her get through the procedure — and left her “feeling absolutely marvelous.”
“I said to the night nurse, ‘Is Love Island on?’ — because we were talking about it — and we watched it together,” she said. “It was only a couple of days later I thought, ‘I feel exhausted, and a bit low actually.’”
Eventually, the Mamma Mia! star decided to undergo chemotherapy. She admitted feeling reluctant at first, but the treatment did not cause her to lose any hair and turned out to be “fine.”
“I’ve just had a scan, and I know that [I’m] clear,” she added.
Walters kept her health scare a secret at first, although she had to miss the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again premiere. Her agent blamed her absence on a ruptured hernia at the time.
The actress was also cut from certain scenes in The Secret Garden as a result of her battle with cancer. In her interview with the BBC, she indicated that the upcoming drama could be her last.
“It would have to be something I’m really engaged with [to take on another role],” she said. “I’m not saying I’ll never act again. But I certainly don’t think I can go back to [a film that requires working] six days a week, five in the morning ’til seven o’clock at night.”
The Secret Garden premieres Friday, April 17.
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