EastEnders star Danielle Harold is set to face an emotional storyline that will see her character Lola Pearce diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The actor is set to be written out of the BBC One soap, and although it has not yet been revealed how Lola's health crisis will play out, her diagnosis will be on screens this autumn.
Viewers will see Lola and her family and friends struggle to deal with her heartbreaking new reality of being a young person living with a brain tumour.
Harold said: “It means so much to be trusted with a storyline like this – one that’s close to many people’s hearts.
"Sadly many of our viewers will be able to relate to Lola’s story, and it’s been heart-breaking to speak to the families affected by brain tumours and hear their stories. They’ve been so amazing in sharing their experiences with me, and I’m so lucky to have them. I wouldn’t be able to do this storyline without their support.”
EastEnders has worked closely with charities to represent the storyline realistically and executive producer Chris Clenshaw said: “It was vital for us to work alongside Macmillan and Brain Tumour Research to take on, and accurately present, such a profound and emotional storyline for Lola, one that many viewers may relate to.
"Danielle has thoughtfully relayed the realities of being diagnosed with a brain tumour with grace and understanding. We hope that this storyline resonates with the audience, and that we represent it as sensitively, and accurately as possible.”
In June, it was reported that Harold was due to be written out of the soap as part of a cull of characters to shake things up.
The news was said to have come as a shock to Harold, 30, who has been in the cast on and off since 2011.
Brain Tumour Research's head of PR and communications Sue Castle-Smith said: “We are extremely grateful to EastEnders for helping to raise awareness of brain tumours. Sadly, Lola’s story is all too familiar to thousands of families. Brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any age, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.”
Macmillan Cancer Support's strategic advisor for treatment Dany Bell added: “Storylines like Lola’s play a crucial role in raising awareness and can genuinely save viewers’ lives, so we are really pleased to be helping EastEnders ensure a realistic experience is being portrayed on the show.
"The moving storyline will show how suddenly a diagnosis can impact every aspect of a person’s life and how challenging it can truly be. We know that what Lola and her fictional family are going through on EastEnders is a daily reality for many people around the UK right now, and Macmillan is here to offer advice and support to anyone who needs it.
"Anyone watching with concerns about any potential signs or symptoms of cancer must also speak to their GP as soon as possible.”
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