Cancer diagnosis in lockdown was 'double nightmare'- Linda Nolan speaks about her incurable cancer

Linda Nolan told today’s Good Morning Britain that learning both she and sister Anne had cancer in lockdown was a “double nightmare” as they couldn’t physically support each other.

Both sisters have previously battled the disease and now Linda has been diagnosed with liver cancer, while Anne has learned she has stage three breast cancer.

Linda said: “During the lockdown it’s been a double nightmare… All we initially were able to do was phone her [Anne] to say we were here, or wave at her through the window. So that has made it more difficult. I think Anne has struggled with that, because she has two daughters and grandchildren. Not being able to have their support, as in hugging… and they’re all mad about their gran, so it has been difficult.” 

Anne was too poorly to join the interview today, but Linda said of how she was feeling: “I feel OK. My chemo isn’t as toxic as Anne’s… Anne’s is a primary cancer – she’s having everything thrown at her to make her well again. She’s sorry she couldn’t be here, but sends her love.” 

Of learning the diagnosis, Linda explained: “Anne discovered a lump in her breast, she went to the doctor. On the 7th May Maureen phoned me to say Anne’s cancer had been confirmed and she had to have chemo…Half an hour later my oncologist secretary phoned. 

“I didn’t tell anyone for about three days. I couldn’t turn around and say, ‘I’ve got it as well’. It’s my third time. But we’re both having great treatment from our local hospital, Victoria [in Blackpool].

Linda joked: “We’re now the Chemo Sisters. Someone said we could do a Right Said Fred impression.”

Of going through treatment together, Linda said: “[At Chemotherapy] we have a good old chinwag. We compare side effects, pins and needles in our fingers and toes – we swap all those, that information.”

Linda said it was such a shock after having such a fantastic time filming The Nolans Go Cruising together: “If it’s got to happen, why now? We were on such a high. There’s been such a great response to the cruising programme. It’s been difficult. Seeing us having such a great time.”

Speaking of her positivity in the face of the illness, Linda said: “They [the doctors] want positivity all the time. They say that helps you as much as what they’re doing. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve both had our moments, we’re both scared to death, we want to live. It is a very scary diagnosis. I’ve known that my cancer isn’t curable since 2017 but I’m getting great treatment and I’m going to be living with cancer and I propose to do that for an awful long time. If you sit down and crawl under the duvet, get up have your treatment and crawl back under the duvet, it’s going to make it twice as bad.”

She added: “We are lucky I suppose in the fact that we can have it [treatment] together.”

Linda added: “We’ve actually had the genetic testing, we don’t have the BRCA gene at all, 1 or 2. We have been told there will be a rogue gene in there somewhere that they haven’t discovered yet. It’s scary for our other sisters and of course the girls that are married that have daughters, well sons as well. It is very scary in that respect.

“It’s really difficult. I don’t think we could have done it without our family being so close.”

Speaking of the loss of sister Bernie to cancer in 2013, she said: ‘We miss Bernie every single day. I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. The first time I looked in the mirror when I had my head shaved, I saw Bernie looking back at me. I cried, I saw her looking back as a sick person really, which saddened me again. People have always said we look alike. I’ve seen pictures of Bernie with no hair, we’re like twins at the moment. Wherever she is, she’ll be saying, ‘Get on with it, girl’.

Of losing her hair Linda said: “I managed to keep my hair a little bit last time. I was traumatised by it. I think a lot of people… I feel vain saying that the worst thing at the moment is I have no hair, but it has been traumatising for me. It’s been a massive shock. You feel a bit weird saying, ‘I’ve got cancer… but I’ve no hair.’ 

Of her niece’s reaction: “The little one just rolled about the floor, she said, ‘You look so silly.’ She broke the ice and everything was OK.”