Former Hollyoaks star Abi Phillips opens up over cancer diagnosis

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Photo credit: Mike Marsland - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mike Marsland - Getty Images

Former Hollyoaks star Abi Phillips has opened up about her thyroid cancer diagnosis.

The Liberty Savage actress shared last month that she had been diagnosed with the condition, revealing at the time that she had been sent away from doctors initially after finding two lumps in her neck.

In a new interview with Fabulous, she elaborated: "I got to the appointment and the woman basically said 'I'm sure it's nothing, your body's probably just getting over something, you've probably got a cold'.

"She said that she had a lot of people coming in with Tonsillitis and that I'm young and to give it a few months and if it's still there, then come back."

Abi recalled: "I thought 'Sod that, I'm not waiting'. I'm not one of those people that can sit around with a lump in my body.

"I looked into booking privately. Bear in mind I'm a musician, for the last two years I haven't really been able to work, so it's not like I've got pots of money lying around. I couldn't afford to go private. But I did it for my peace of mind, for my mental health, I couldn't just sit around knowing I had a lump in my neck."

After seeing a consultant, who took it more seriously, the actress recalled after getting some tests done: "She basically sat me down and said we are looking at cancer.

"She referred me back to the NHS to see a really amazing head and neck/thyroid surgeon specialist and I ended up going to that appointment with him. He sat me down and this was the next awful bit because he said 'You do have cancer' and we're not sure which one it is.

"At this point, I'm going out of my mind. They basically sent me down to have a lot of blood tests, I think they took about 10 bottles of blood from me. They were pretty certain it was thyroid cancer."

Photo credit: Joseph Okpako - Getty Images
Photo credit: Joseph Okpako - Getty Images

She added: "I wasn't sobbing but my eyes were just leaking everywhere. It just was just really bizarre. I couldn't really think, I was just devastated. I couldn't actually believe it."

Abi admitted that the thought of death "absolutely" crossed her mind, noting: "I just think it's human nature to think those things. When you hear the C word you automatically do think the worst. You get told you're young, but it does not matter. I personally think cancer doesn't discriminate against anybody and you can get it no matter how old you are."

Abi went on to reveal that she discovered she had the less complicated form of two thyroid cancers, saying: "It hadn't spread throughout the body and it was just in my thyroid gland and two lymph nodes in my neck at this point.

"We were celebrating, which I said was just so weird. Celebrating that you've got a certain type of cancer is just nuts to me."

The star underwent a five-hour operation last Monday to remove her thyroid gland and lymph nodes, admitting that the aftermath was "excruciating", and she will likely have to have a radioactive drink to kill the other cancer cells.

Abi also admitted that there was a possibility more cancer cells could be found later, adding: "I mean, there is a chance. It does scare me quite a bit, but I feel like it's more affected me mentally with other things as well."

She said she may see a therapist to mentally process what she is going through, and also revealed she had been in contact with Love Island star Demi Jones, whose advice to check unusual lumps spurred her to seek out a specialist in the first place.

Related: Love Island's Demi Jones explains how life has changed since cancer diagnosis

Encouraging people to get unusual lumps checked, Abi said: "If you do have a lump of some sort and you have no other symptoms, get it checked. Don't let somebody tell you that you're too young.

"It is scary and no, you don't want to hear that [C] word, but it's better to hear it and be able to do something about it, rather than to hear it later and it'd be too late."

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

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