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Former Coronation Street star Victoria Ekanoye has revealed she is preparing to have a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
The actress, 39, shared that she found a lump in her left breast while feeding her newborn son Theodore, who she welcomed in January with her partner Jonny Lomas.
She explained that the death of Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding, who died from breast cancer in September, also encouraged her to get answers about the lump.
Ekanoye, best known for playing Angie Appleton in the ITV soap between 2017 and 2019, told OK! magazine: “This is going to sound so cheesy, but I almost feel like having Theo and breastfeeding him has saved me.
“Had I never been fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed, those lumps would never have come up the way they did.”
The actress explained that there is a history of breast cancer in her family, with her mother being diagnosed at 41 and her sister at 39, so she was quick to seek medical advice after finding the lump.
She added that the death of Harding also affected her, saying: “We’re the same age. It was really alarming for me, as it was for everyone. And so sad. Really sad.
“If anything it made me determined to get to the bottom of things with my health.”
Watch: How exercise can help in the fight against breast cancer
Ekanoye, who has sickle cell disease, was first given the all-clear by two doctors but after seeking a third opinion and running extensive tests, including an ultrasound, a mammogram and two biopsies, they identified cancerous cells in her milk ducts.
The birth of her son had also been traumatic and she said it feels “almost inconceivable” to have to go through another intense medical issue so soon afterwards.
She added: “It feels unfair. It’s already so hard being a parent. When this happened I just thought, ‘Can we get a bit of a break please!’
“I feel a bit overwhelmed and I’m scared because, as optimistic as the outlook is, you can’t predict the future.
I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic about my bump recently…🤰🏾
But oh my goodness, the precious cargo inside has us completely undone ✨💙👼🏽💙✨
How did we get so lucky? 🥺🙌🏾🥰
— Victoria Ekanoye (@VictoriaEkanoye) May 14, 2021
“I just want to be here. I’ve got a life to live and a family to love and look after.”
The soap star said they hope the double mastectomy will be enough to be curative as long as the cancer is not invasive, otherwise she will have to undergo chemotherapy.
She also explained that due to her sickle cell anaemia she will need a full body blood exchange a week before the surgery, which is planned for the beginning of December.
Ekanoye said she plans to have her breast reconstructive surgery at the same time as the double mastectomy so as not to put her through surgery twice due to the increased risk caused by her sickle cell disease.
She said her newborn motivated her through the diagnosis, adding: “He is the cutest, sweetest little thing. He’s growing so quickly and he’s so advanced and it’s blowing our minds.
“Those little moments with him… it’s bittersweet as I think, ‘I want to be around forever for him’ but he also gets me through.
“I’m so grateful. Not everyone has something so positive to anchor onto. He’s like my little guardian angel, keeping my head above water.”
Ekanoye has also planned a fundraiser for November 18 for Prevent Breast Cancer and Sickle Cell Care Manchester, both of which she is a patron of, to celebrate medical progress in these areas and also as a “send-off” party for her breasts.
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