Loose Women star and breast cancer survivor Carol McGiffin has been appointed as an ambassador for a charity highlighting a forgotten form of the disease.
The outspoken broadcaster, who underwent a year of treatment after her own diagnosis, will represent Make 2nds Count, which campaigns to fund research into secondary breast cancer and support patients and their families.
And her big personality and fearless opinions are set to raise the profile of the little-known, incurable cancer which kills 1000 women a month.
Secondary breast cancer – also known as metastatic, advanced or stage IV breast cancer – is a cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. On average there are around 35,000 patients in the UK currently living with this form of the disease.
Carol was diagnosed with the aggressive and highly-invasive triple negative form of breast cancer in 2014, the year after she came an impressive fourth in Big Brother. Following successful treatment, she passed her five-year remission milestone in late 2019. But her cancer was not suitable for treatments like Herceptin and Tamoxifen which can help to prevent the disease returning. As a result, she is well aware of the feelings that can provoke.
She said: “I am constantly aware and fearful of secondary cancers that might not be obvious early on but can never be cured. I monitor my health religiously and attend checks all the time. But I’m concerned at the lack of awareness of secondary breast cancer and of this brilliant charity which does so much to help women who are suffering.”
Carol learned of Make 2nds Count, which recently celebrated raising its first £1 million, when it supported a live tour she was taking part in and is now passionate about promoting its work: “Even though secondary breast cancer is incurable, early detection is still key and treatment more likely to preserve a decent and longer life. So, it’s vital that more people are aware of the disease and informed about the support, information and initiatives like patient trials that Make 2nds Count promotes.”
Make 2nds Count founder Lisa Fleming of Edinburgh said: “Having Carol on board is fantastic and gives us a really vibrant, authentic voice. She’s got the lived experience and can identify exactly with what we are trying to do and the anxieties patients face. We’re really looking forward to working together to raise the profile of the disease and our work.”
Lisa set up Make 2nds Count after being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. She had no primary diagnosis, warning signs or lump when she was told the disease had already spread to the majority of her bones. It swiftly spread to her brain and she is living with a life sentence.
Carol started her media career at Music Box, precursor to MTV, and later co-presented a weekend morning radio show with her former husband Chris Evans. She went on to become a producer on the Big Breakfast before moving on to Talk Radio and, subsequently, other radio work. In 2000 she joined the Live Talk panel – Loose Women by another name – and, barring a five-year break in 2013, has been there ever since.
She had a lifelong dream to live in France and in 2016, motivated by the cancer diagnosis, sold her London flat and bought a house near Nice where she lives with her now husband Mark, travelling back to the UK to do Loose Women.