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Julie Walters reveals she was diagnosed with bowel cancer

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"Billy Elliot" actress Julie Walters said she survived a diagnosis of stage three bowel cancer in an interview with BBC.

Posted: Feb 21, 2020 3:00 AM
Updated: Feb 21, 2020 3:00 AM

British actress Julie Walters has revealed she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018.

The "Mamma Mia!" and "Billy Elliot" actress said she was shocked to be diagnosed with stage three of the disease around 18 months ago, but has now been given the all clear.

The experience has led the Academy Award-nominated actress to reevaluate her workload and step back from projects.

Walters, 69, told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire that she visited her doctor after suffering from a number of symptoms, including indigestion, stomach pain and vomiting.

While filming "The Secret Garden," due to be released in April, Walters found out that a CT scan had revealed an abnormality in her intestine, which specialists feared was cancer.

In an interview which aired on Thursday, the BAFTA-winning actress said she initially thought a mistake had been made. "I couldn't believe it," she said.

Walters also described telling her husband the news. "I'll never forget his face. And tears came into his eyes," she said.

One foot of her colon was removed during surgery, Walters said, adding that she also underwent chemotherapy.

The experience has "completely changed" her perspective towards acting, she said.

"I feel like the person before the operation is different to this person," said Walters, adding that she enjoyed stepping back from her intensive workload.

Walters added that there was a sense of "relief" she felt at being able to get off the "merry-go-round" of acting projects she had lined up.

Walters has been nominated for two Academy Awards -- for her supporting roles in "Educating Rita" and "Billy Elliot" -- and also played Molly Weasley in the "Harry Potter" movie franchise.

Walters said: "I'm not saying I'll never act again," but added she would likely not star in a film that required her to work 14-hour days, five or six days a week.

A scan has shown Walters has recovered, the actress said.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK.

In the United States it is the third most common cancer, excluding skin cancers, with experts last year estimating more than 51,000 people would die in 2019 due to colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

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