Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Brave Wendy Richard spends quality time with husband-to-be before cancer treatment starts


Frail EastEnders legend Wendy Richard is helped into her car at her family home by her doting long-term partner.

The actress, who has revealed she has terminal cancer, has vowed to wed John Burns this week ahead of the start of her treatment.

And caring John showed his gentleman's touch yesterday as he helped his wife-to-be into their blue 4x4 as they set off from their London home
Wendy Richard

Wendy Richard yesterday leaving her London home with partner John Burns

Perhaps the couple were off to make plans for the ceremony.

The actress, who has beaten the cancer twice before, confirmed on Sunday that it had returned and spread.

After receiving the devastating diagnosis, Miss Richard, 65, and her Mr Burns decided to bring their wedding plans forward.

Wendy Richard

Miss Richar and Mr Burns are set to marry this week ahead of her treatment for terminal cancer, which starts next week

She said that she wants to have a 'pain-free' day and a laugh during the civil ceremony and reception at a London hotel with 60 family members and close friends.

She begins chemotherapy on October 13.

Miss Richard, who played Pauline Fowler in EastEnders for 20 years, has been inundated with messages of support from fans and colleagues, according to friends.
Wendy Richard

Wendy Richard: 'It was a terrible shock'

One said: 'She has been really touched by all the love and affection that has been coming her way.

'It gives her a lot of strength and happiness to know people are thinking of her.'

The star learned that the disease had returned in January during a regular check up. She has survived two bouts of breast cancer.
Wendy Richard

Wedding plans: With John Burns

Cancer cells were discovered in her left armpit and the drugs she was given to treat them only made her condition worse.

In recent months doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her right kidney and bones.

Initially, her oncologist told her she had 'several useful years ahead'. But since then, her condition has deteriorated and her future is now uncertain.
Wendy Richard

Wendy Richard, who received an MBE in 2000, is battling cancer for the third time

She said: 'Twice I've had breast cancer but this is different. It's more aggressive this time, unfortunately and has spread to the top of my spine and left ribs.

'It has come as a terrible shock and you just get so fed up. You think "oh crikey,' here we go again" but you just have to buck your ideas up and get on with things.'

Miss Richard, who was awarded the MBE in 2000, said: 'Some nights I just wanted to scream the place down. It didn't matter whether you lay down, stood up, sat down - the pain was just there all the time.

'At one point this year I was on 11 tablets a day but I'm up to 12 now and I have to have injections in my stomach every day.

'My message to anyone going through the cancer thing is to remain positive and have faith in your oncologist and doctors.'
Wendy Richard

Devoted couple: She will marry John Burns, her partner of 12 years, before she begins chemotherapy on October 13

Doctors have told her she has a hormonal imbalance which has made her condition worse.

But she admits her years of heavy smoking have not helped.

She has already written her will and made detailed plans for her own funeral, including the music she'd like played and who she would like to attend.

'You've got to be practical about these things. I want all my affairs to be in order.'

But she conceded: 'I did get a bit upset when I was working out the music I'd like.'
Wendy Richard

Glamour puss: Wendy Richard in her days as a shop assistant in the classic comedy, Are You Being Served?

She and Mr Burns, who is 20 years her junior, have been together for 13 years. 'We were going to get married anyway but when we got the diagnosis we decided to push ahead and get married now. There was no rush before,' said Miss Richard.

Mr Burns added: 'It will be one day when we can hopefully put Wendy's illness to the side because it has been a very turbulent time.

'All we have had recently is bad news. It has just been one depressing phone call after another.'

Miss Richard, who has been married three times before, added: 'All I want is a pain-free day and to be able to laugh.'
Wendy Richard

EastEnder: Pauline and Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher) introduce baby Martin in the early days of the soap

She has been on screen since the 1960s, playing shop assistant Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served? and taking parts in the Carry On Films.

Last year, she was awarded a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK said: 'Wendy has been a terrific supporter of Cancer Research UK and our thoughts are with her and her family at this difficult time.'

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