'I keep bursting into tears, because I'm so happy': Samantha Womack is cancer-free

Samantha Womack struggled to open up about her diagnosis at first credit:Bang Showbiz
Samantha Womack struggled to open up about her diagnosis at first credit:Bang Showbiz

Former 'EastEnders' star Samantha Womack is "cancer-free".

The 50-year-old actress revealed in August she was battling breast cancer, and after a rough few months of chemotherapy and successful surgery, Samantha has been given the all-clear and admits she is "really thankful" for life.

Speaking to OK! Magazine, she said: “I just feel really thankful and really grateful that I caught it when I did.

“I feel very thankful for my life. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s almost like I can see the beauty in everything now – like everything feels special. I keep bursting into tears, because I’m happy."

She continued: “I think it [going through cancer] shifts your perspective and suddenly everything feels really important and really vital and you suddenly just appreciate everything.”

Sam found it really hard to open up about her diagnosis, but was encouraged by her partner Oliver.

She said: “He knew that I’m not very good at being vulnerable and I find it quite uncomfortable.

“He just kept saying, ‘It’s OK to not be OK.’ I was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’ And just kept pushing him away and ignoring it.”

However, that changed after the death of her rescue dog, Lola.

She explained: “That became the catalyst for me just suddenly breaking down.

“I needed that to happen for me to understand the reality of the situation.”

Oliver added: “Sam is so, so strong – she’s the strongest person I know. But what comes with that is potentially not thinking about herself or putting herself first. She’s always thinking about other people and she sometimes forgets herself. It’s OK if you need to just be quiet for a while. You can just stop. If you want to be quiet, be quiet, if you want to cry, cry. It’s part of a bigger process.”

Sam - who played Ronnie Mitchell on the BBC One soap between 2007 and 2017 - struggled with her changing appearance during chemotherapy and worried her partner would no longer find her attractive.

She said: “The thing with breast cancer, as a woman, it’s such a brutal attack on your femininity.

“Your breasts and your hair and all of those things they represent, the things that you hold on to as feeling attractive, but also make you feel feminine as a woman … It feels very brutal.

“I kept saying, ‘I don’t want you to find me ugly. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to you.’ Just silly things that you say, but they are feelings. And also, for me saying, ‘I don’t want to put you through this, why on God’s earth would you want to be with someone that’s going to be in and out of hospitals?!’ I didn’t know at the beginning how bad it was going to be.

“He kept saying to me, ‘You idiot, this is what I want, I want to be here with you. This is a privilege for me to be near you and you’re beautiful and I don’t give a s*** about your hair.’ I think it really took my breath away. I found that very emotional. I didn’t expect to feel such gratitude for someone for loving me just for me, rather than all the bits you think are important.”