Eastenders favourite Jean Slater will face one of the toughest times of her life when she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
The bipolar character, played by Gillian Wright, will start to show symptoms of the killer disease next month, leading her to visit the doctor.
Soap bosses are working closely with charity Macmillan Cancer Support to ensure the storyline is handled correctly.
Gillian, 58, said it was “an honour and a huge responsibility” to tackle the issue, which affects more than 7,000 women and their families in the UK every year.
She said: “I’m aware of the impact such stories can have. It’s important that we treat the issue of cancer diagnosis and treatment with huge sensitivity, dignity and respect.
Jean Slater is Stacey and Sean’s mother
Sean and Jean Slater
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“I hope the story helps awareness of the disease and is supportive to those affected.” BBC soap boss Kate Oates said the diagnosis would impact every aspect of Jean’s life,including her mental health.
She said: “I know an actor of Gillian’s calibre will approach the story with great truth and depth. The Slaters are an amazing ensemble family and this story is a completely fresh subject for them to tackle. I know they will do it justice and raise awareness of such an important issue that affects so many people.”
Jean first appeared in 2004 and is mum to Stacey, played by Lacey Turner, and Sean (Rob Kazinsky).
Jean with Stacey Fowler
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Her illness is the reason Sean is returning to Walford in the spring.
Macmillan’s Georgina Wiley is advising the soap on the plot. She said: “Being diagnosed with cancer can turn someone’s world upside down.
“Stories like Jean’s can genuinely save and improve lives. We want all the ‘real-life Jeans’ to know we are here to help.”
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