Dame Julie Walters has revealed that she’s been battling bowel cancer, complete with chemotherapy and surgery. The Mamma Mia actress said she was in utter disbelief when she first learned of her diagnosis.
When Julie Walters first learned that she had stage three bowel cancer, with two primary tumors located in her large intestine 18 months ago, she said, “I was still thinking, ‘That’s ridiculous, he must have made a mistake. I couldn’t believe it.”
The 69-year-old explained that she first visited her doctor to get back pain relief because she was in “slight discomfort” and had suffered indigestion a year prior. She returned again later when she started to experience stomach pain, heartburn, and vomiting. She was then referred to a gastric surgeon who performed a CT scan.
While filming The Secret Garden, she received a phone call to follow-up on the results of the CT scan and was told she needed to see a specialist, who later told her she might have cancer.
She was scared to tell her husband, Grant Roffey, of the news at first. She said, “I’ll never forget his face. Tears came into his eyes.”
After receiving her diagnosis, Walters said that she tried to maintain hope that she’d be able to overcome her battle and that she’d be okay. Her doctor reassured her, saying, “We can fix this.”
However, while she sat waiting for surgery to remove 30cm out of her colon, she thought to herself, “Well, I may not come round from the anesthetic.” She also recalled how when she did, in fact, come around, that she felt “absolutely marvelous” because of its effects.
“It was only a couple of days later I thought, I feel exhausted, and a bit low actually.” She had a chemotherapy treatment soon after, and she says she felt “fine,” and didn’t lose any hair.
After having surgery and chemotherapy, Walters told Derbyshire that she was doing “really well.”
She added, “I’ve just had a scan and I know that [I’m] clear. The person before the operation is different to this person.”
What does this mean for Julie Walter’s future in acting? After receiving her bowel cancer diagnosis, she had to be cut from filming The Secret Garden. It may very well be her last film.
Walters said about acting, “It would have to be something I’m really engaged with. I’m not saying I’ll never act again. But I certainly don’t think I can go back to [working] six days a week, five in the morning till seven o’clock at night.”