I'm a soap opera star and my cancer made me self harm - I was scalding myself to wash the cells away

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“It became a routine, like an addiction.”

Cheryl Fergison revealed she doused herself in scalding water multiple times following her battle with womb cancer.

The EastEnders actress, 58, who played Heather Trott in the BBC soap from 2007 until 2012, revealed her cancer battle in an interview with OK! Magazine.

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Cheryl kept her health problems private after getting the diagnosis nine years ago.

Cheryl Fergison revealed she scalded herself multiple times following her battle with cancer (Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)Cheryl Fergison revealed she scalded herself multiple times following her battle with cancer (Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Cheryl Fergison revealed she scalded herself multiple times following her battle with cancer (Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images) | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Despite undergoing a hysterectomy and five week course of radiotherapy, she continued to wrongly believe that cancer cells remained in her body.

Despite reassurance that doctors would monitor her for years to come and getting the five-year sign-off in 2020, Cheryl took matters into her own hands.

“In my head, I thought I still had cancer cells in me. Doctors had talked about having done a ‘washing’ procedure as part of the surgery so I thought right, I’ll wash myself, I’ll wash these cells away,” Cheryl told OK! Magazine.

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“So every day, sometimes twice a day, I would get a shower head and get the water at its hottest setting - as much as I could bear - and use it in the same area.

“I was doing this for years. It became a routine, like an addiction. I told nobody except Yass and he would try to stop me - he was so supportive - but it was in my head.”

Cheryl kept her health problems private after getting the diagnosis nine years ago (Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)Cheryl kept her health problems private after getting the diagnosis nine years ago (Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)
Cheryl kept her health problems private after getting the diagnosis nine years ago (Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images) | Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Burned and sore, her skin would bleed, smear tests became too painful to bear, and it was difficult being intimate with her husband of 12-years Yassine El-Jamouni, 37.

She also now has a partial bladder prolapse which she believes is a result of her actions.

Cheryl said: “I just thought: ‘this is what I have to do.’

“I’d try to wean myself off but I’d always do it again.

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“You go through a threshold of pain - now if I had to do fire eating for a living it wouldn’t be a problem.”

The self-harm stopped only last year when, terrified that further backache was a signal that the cancer had returned, she consulted doctors.

“They looked at my notes and it turned out the initial treatment had got all the cancer,” Cheryl said.

“The day after I got that news I stopped hurting myself. In my head seeing and hearing that evidence gave me the proof I needed.

“My mind was at ease at last. I’m in a good place now.”

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Cheryl doesn’t blame anyone for “all of those years of psychological stress” - and remains a huge advocate for the NHS.

She recently went to A&E for an unrelated leg infection and called staff ‘angels’, but she said she saw things “can’t unsee”.

The mum of one, who lives in Lytham St Annes, revealed she had spent 24 hours in Blackpool Victoria Hospital in “complete agony”.

The self-harm stopped only last year when she consulted doctors (Credit: Nat Jag/Getty Images)The self-harm stopped only last year when she consulted doctors (Credit: Nat Jag/Getty Images)
The self-harm stopped only last year when she consulted doctors (Credit: Nat Jag/Getty Images) | Nat Jag/Getty Images

She took to her Instagram page to reflect on the things she had seen and to thank the NHS staff for their work.

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The former Celebrity Big Brother star said: “I just can’t believe the way that some people are, some people are like animals, they’re like savages, they have no respect for the NHS staff or the people around them who are sick, who are ill.

“They come in with minor things that could be treated with some paracetamol or if they thought about it, they needn’t even bother the doctors and nurses and the teams of the NHS staff.

“They don’t think, they just come in and go ‘oh it’s free, I’ll use it’, when there are truly sick people out there who need to use the services.”

You can read the full story by clicking HERE.

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