She’s been back on screens as EastEnders’ most recent ‘I used to go out with Phil Mitchell, I got scarred for life and now I’m back’ returnee but Lucy Benjamin has been dealing with a hellish year off-screen too.
And this weekend she’s opened up to The Mirror about how she lost her father last year to bladder cancer.
“He died within six weeks of his diagnosis, so it was a big shock,” Lucy, 47, explained.
“He was only 69 and had beaten bowel cancer 15 years before.”
Lucy says that going through something like that has now made her think differently about her own health – and that she’s doing everything in her power to be around for her own girls, Bessie, 10 and Rosie, six, for as long as possible.
“Now it’s just made me really on it in terms of prevention,” she says. “I have regular cystoscopies. You just can’t take the risk.”
But no matter how traumatic her loss was, she keeps her dad alive by chatting to her daughters about him.
“The thing is, Dad’s death is so vivid in my head it could so easily be my everlasting memory of him,” she told the newspaper.
“But I force myself to talk about him as though he’s alive. And to teach my girls honestly about what happened.
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“I didn’t say Grandad was poorly, I said he had cancer. I don’t want them thinking every time I say I’m poorly that I’ll die too.
“I just explained that some people with cancer can be cured and some people can’t.”
Lucy also involves herself in Macmillan Coffee Mornings (“I can’t bake at all. But I’ll buy cakes to sell. And I’m always hungry. That still counts, right?” – amen to that, Lucy) to raise money for cancer patients and their families.
Lucy was recently back on EastEnders to film the aftermath of daughter Louise’s prom, where Louise suffered burns at the hands of bullies and ended up in hospital.
Things were a bit awkward between her and ex Phil on the basis that, er, she tried to shoot him dead once (classic ex scenario) and got even worse when her mental health problems led her to kidnap their daughter from her hospital bed.
Don’t expect them to be going for a friendly pint any time soon.