Monday, August 17, 2009

Family bond: Samantha with he

I also learnt at that point that Mum had secondary cancer including spots on her lungs. It was heartbreaking but we had to hope something could be done.'

Samantha, who is married to actor Alexander Hanson, 48, with whom she has two children, Molly, 17, and Tom, 16, found it hard to balance her work with being around to support her mother.

As a busy actress, she was committed to various jobs and shortly after Pat's chemotherapy began, she flew to New York to appear on Broadway with Dame Judi Dench.

'It was so hard. I'd told Judi about Mum when we had been filming GoldenEye together. But while we were in New York her husband Michael Williams was also diagnosed with lung cancer.

'So we lived through this horrible time together. There were phone calls and letters but as this was cancer the second time round, I had a feeling that it was unlikely that we were on course for a happy ending.

'That's why every opportunity to make something splendid was grabbed, including taking Mum to the Tony awards in New York. I still chuckle when I remember how she said to me as I smiled at all the photographers, "You are getting good at this."'

By Christmas 1999, the chemotherapy had finished. Although Pat remained characteristically optimistic, her children realised time might be limited, so the extended family did their best to make the most of it.

'She fought on, returning to work as a producer on The Bill - and did so until two weeks before she died. Physically she got weaker and weaker and used a wheelchair at work. She was so thin and had a terrible cough. She went in to hospital and was extremely confused. She passed away a few days later.

'I was shooting a television series called The Hunt at the time and just after she died had to do a dinner party scene where I had to keep laughing. I carried on only because my mother, the consummate professional, would have expected me to. I just made it known on set that I didn't want everyone being kind - I would have fallen apart.

'Adrian Lukis, who was playing my husband, had known Mum for years and was a tower of strength. His and Robert Glenister's love and understanding made the day possible.'
Samantha Bond with her daughter Molly

Family bond: Samantha with her daughter Molly

The hammer blow of her mother's diagnosis had long made Samantha rethink how she could protect herself from the disease.

'I took as much exercise as I could, walking everywhere and using the stairs rather than the lift. I had more fibre in my diet, swapping white bread for wholemeal.

'And I'd monitor myself constantly - keeping an eye out for any changes relating to my bowels. It was always a relief when the colonoscopy was clear, but the worry was there.'

Early symptoms of bowel cancer include blood in the stools,

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