MAFS star Mel Schilling's subtle cancer sign she missed before devastating news

Married at First Sight UK star Mel Schilling pictured in a hospital bed
-Credit: (Image: Instagram/ @mel_schilling1)


Relationship guru Mel Schilling, famed for her stint as a dating coach on Married At First Sight, has opened up about her fight with stage three colon cancer.

In the midst of intense chemotherapy sessions, Mel maintains an inspiring level of positivity and resilience, buoyed by the love and support from her husband Gareth and their nine-year-old daughter Maddie.

The family have made the move to the UK for good, leaving Mel's homeland of Australia, and have settled into their beautiful new abode in South West London.

She concedes that the last six months have posed immense challenges, yet Mel confronts them with commendable candour. She's also dedicated to altering public perceptions about the symptoms of her type of cancer, having been misdiagnosed twice before the discovery of her tumour, and is eager to use her influence to spread awareness.

Even with her hopeful attitude and determination to beat the illness, Mel doesn't gloss over the hardships of undergoing chemotherapy, reports the Mirror.

Speaking in an exclusive chat with OK! Magazine, she said: "It's getting tough now. I'm about halfway through and it's getting hard. Feeling fatigued and nauseous has become a more regular part of my life. It's like being hungover or pregnant every day, which is certainly not enjoyable.

Mel, who is a regular on both the Australian and British series of Married at First Sight, started her chemotherapy treatment on the same day they moved house. She said: "In true 'me' fashion, the day we moved was the day I started chemotherapy.

"I don't do things by halves. It's been a tricky time as I've been adjusting to going through that and moving house

.

"But Gareth has been doing most of the move so I'm very lucky he's happy to pick up the slack."

The 52-year-old noticed a change in her body while filming last year. She recalls: "The last quarter of 2023, I was in Australia filming MAFS and there was a crossover with filming in the UK so I had to fly back and forth.

"That was hard because it's a long flight, so you've got the tiredness and the jet lag and I'm 52!

"My body was complaining about all the long-haul flights and I thought that's all it was."

However, things took a serious turn when she experienced rapid weight loss and a loss of appetite. She said: "My digestive system packed to a halt and I started having stomach pain.

"I wasn't paying attention to my body because I was so busy. I'm a big foodie and I noticed something was really wrong when I couldn't eat anything or even hold down a cup of tea.

"Once I got home, I realised I hadn't eaten anything in around a week and I hadn't been to the toilet in three weeks. I'd lost over a stone in weight and I was on a liquid diet by this point.

"I wasn't even aware of how much I had lost, so things were serious. But I never thought it would be cancer."

Mel, a mother-of-three, was hit with a shocking revelation when a gastroenterologist ordered a CT scan that revealed a 5cm tumour in her colon. Despite the grim diagnosis, Mel has taken an active approach, not only managing her condition but also using it as a springboard to educate and assist others.

She added: "As horrible as it has been, and it is let's not sugarcoat it a tough call, there is some sense of purpose, I guess. I've realised that I do have a platform and while it's lots of fun to use it for entertainment purposes, I also get to use it to raise awareness.

"Since I've been diagnosed I've connected with a lot of charities and I've learnt so much. "Her path to diagnosis was far from simple; initially, two doctors misdiagnosed her with constipation, which has spurred her on to increase public awareness even more."

"I want to get people talking about this and remove the ridiculous stigma we talk about other bodily functions. We talk about boobs all the time when it comes to breast cancer. Let's talk about poo as well.

Following her diagnosis, Mel underwent successful keyhole surgery to remove the tumour and has completed five rounds of chemotherapy. She remains hopeful, exploring both conventional and alternative treatments to boost her chances of recovery.

She revealed: "I'm exploring a range of traditional and non-traditional treatments to give me the best chance of beating this so it's positive so far."

Throughout this difficult time, Mel's husband Gareth, 51, whom she wed six years ago after meeting in 2011, has been her rock, helping her through the hardest moments."

"Gareth has been such a rock for me," she expresses. "He's had his own tough year as he's dealt with loss in his life, but he's still been there for me. It really does feel like a team, I can be open about how I'm feeling and we adjust things at home accordingly."

"We have an unconventional relationship, I suppose, as I'm the one who goes out to work and he takes on most of the parenting at home. It works well for us.

From the beginning, the couple chose to be honest with their daughter Maddie, and Mel informed her about her cancer on the day she was diagnosed.

"I think she has a nine-year old's understanding of what cancer means," Mel explains. "She knows I'm having chemo and she knows that when I have an infusion I'll be tired and need extra cuddles, which she is always ready to give. She understands it in her own way.

Describing her approach to life as "living with cancer" rather than "suffering" from it, Mel has maintained her work commitments alongside her treatment, finding that staying active professionally aids her mental well-being.

"I've had to adjust my work schedule so the chemotherapy isn't near when I'm filming something I like to make the most of my energy," she explains. "Working is so important to me, and while it does take energy from me, it gives me energy too I get so much out of my work and I need it.

"If I had to sit on the couch and watch TV all day I'd probably go crazy."