Emmerdale star Sally Dexter responds to Faith's cancer story

·6-min read

Emmerdale spoilers follow.

Emmerdale aired emotional scenes for Faith Dingle on Thursday (May 12) as she was told that her breast cancer had returned.

During an appointment at the hospital, Faith learned the devastating news that her illness was treatable but not curable. When she pushed for a prognosis, Faith was told that her life would be shortened as the cancer had already spread.

Faith had her daughter-in-law Moira present with her for moral support. Upcoming episodes will see Moira urge Faith to confide in the rest of the Dingles, but she insists on rebuilding their fractured relationships first.

Here, Sally Dexter – who plays Faith – discusses the big new storyline.

How is Faith feeling after the news about her health?

"Faith is absolutely shellshocked. She was numb when she heard the news and she couldn't take it in. In a sense, Moira being there relieved Faith of having to react, as it was Moira who responded emotionally.

"I find that sometimes, when someone else cries or is emotional, you aren't yourself – it tends to get passed over to that other person. In a way, Moira has taken that baton and has taken the responsibility of the emotions.

"In some ways that's not a good thing, because if Faith was on her own with the oncologist, I think there would have been a different reaction.

"But by the same token, I think Faith wouldn't have liked to have that big emotional response herself. I think she's relieved that Moira does it for her."

Did Faith always suspect the cancer was back?

"Yes, I think it was strongly on her mind. I've heard that from a lot of people – it's in the back of your mind that 'I'm cured, but is it going to come back?'

"But a lot of people are cured, especially with breast cancer. They say it's the best cancer to have – because if you catch it early, you will probably be cured. That is a big message to get out there – go and get checked, because you're probably going to be alright if you do."

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Is this why Faith has been behaving so strangely recently?

"Yes, Faith has started behaving a little bit erratically and she has been a little bit more extreme with her drinking.

"Faith also had a little bit of a fling with Dan. I wish we'd got some more scenes together – not quite of that ilk – because Liam Fox is such a smashing person to work with and we did have fun doing that story.

"The situation with Dan helped to take Faith's mind off her worries. To have a bit of fun in the depths of despair was a very welcome thing indeed."

Why didn't Faith confide in anyone sooner?

"Faith didn't know exactly what the situation was, so she wanted to keep it to herself until she knew exactly what it was. She didn't want people to worry unnecessarily. Neither did she want them to pity her, especially if there isn't anything to be pitiable about.

"Faith felt that, if she revealed her worst fears, suddenly she would be a different person in other people's eyes. She feared that they would not see her – they'd see her condition rather than her as a person."

Can you share where things go from here?

"Moira now knows the truth and wants everybody to be told about it, which is the last thing Faith wants to do. Faith fears that, if she lets Cain and Chas know, Cain in particular will pity her but still despise her.

"Faith thinks there's no chance that they could have a proper, honest mother-and-son relationship without it being tinged with the question of: 'Is Cain just being guilt-ridden and responding to Faith out of guilt, rather than because he loves her?'

"Would he be responding to her as a mother or responding to the cancer?"

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Does part of Faith worry that her children wouldn't be there for her, even if they knew the truth?

"Yes, there's that as well. There is that chance, in Faith's mind, that the worst outcome is they find out she's got cancer and they don't care, so she'd be alone. That'd probably be the hardest thing of all."

We see Moira give Faith a deadline to tell her family the truth…

"Yes, although Faith tries very hard to convince Moira that it's not right for her to be the person to tell anybody else. It's Faith's choice what she does. They have quite a few conversations about that.

"Faith believes she knows what's best for her, and it's having control over your life in that way. If you can't control the cancer, at least you can control the choices that you make.

"This becomes a fundamental and ever-growing thought in Faith's mind – that she wants to take control."

Have the scenes been emotional to film?

"The difficult thing with filming emotional scenes, is that the first time you read them and you do the line run, it comes splurging out. If you're not careful, it splurges out completely and you're left feeling totally empty!

"That happens when you have a good cry, doesn't it? You have to be careful that doesn't happen on the first read-through. It's a question of holding it back, as they do several different shots and then they come up for a close-up.

Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

"You've done the same point of emotion around six times, before you get to the point where you need to let it rip. That can be challenging.

"Some of the scenes are so well-written that it's difficult not to just have a gut reaction to them from the word go and let that run out."

Have you enjoyed working with Natalie J Robb (Moira) on the story?

"Yes, she's fabulous, of course she is. I would say the same with Lucy [Pargeter, who plays Chas] and Jeff [Hordley, who plays Cain] as well. They're three amazing actors and actresses. They're adorable and I feel very fortunate. It's a privilege to work with them."

Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7.30pm on ITV and streams on the ITV Hub.

Read more Emmerdale spoilers on our dedicated homepage

If you would like more information or support about living with cancer or treatment, please click here for guidance from Breast Cancer Now, or click here to learn more from Stand Up to Cancer.

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