Coleen Nolan explains why she’s decided against a double mastectomy despite sisters’ cancer battles

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Coleen Nolan is renowned for voicing her opinion with utter conviction and honesty – as often seen on Loose Women. And when we sit down for a catch up following our exclusive shoot, she doesn’t disappoint. In fact, the former singer is in the mood for sharing.

But despite her smiles and all-round glow (her new vegan lifestyle is working wonders), Coleen’s news isn’t all positive.

In her first interview since splitting from her mystery boyfriend of six months, Col admits to being disappointed in the way he unexpectedly ended things, and tells us how protective her kids, Ciara, 20, Jake, 26, and Shane, 32, were when she told them.

“You don’t want to know the bad language that came out of my kids’ mouths when I told them he’d finished it,” she says. “I was so shocked and hurt – I really started to get feelings for him.”

In the midst of the pandemic Coleen has also had to endure the pain of watching her beloved sisters, Anne and Linda, battle with cancer, following the death of their sibling Bernie eight years ago. In a bittersweet turn of events, Anne has been given the all-clear, while Linda’s cancer is incurable. And now Coleen tells us she’s made the difficult decision to put off getting a double mastectomy, despite her family’s history with the disease.

“I spoke to so many people about what to do,” she explains. “It was Linda who told me not to go ahead with it.”

Here Coleen opens up about being back on dating apps, why she doesn’t want to get married, and her fear of cancer…

So Coleen, what happened with your boyfriend? Is it really all over?

Sadly so. I met him online and we connected really well. We saw each other twice, but then we went into lockdown. So all we could do was text and call every day. I really started to fall for him and I couldn’t wait to see him again. But then as lockdown started lifting, he was meant to pick me up, but the day before that he went weird on the texting front. I asked him why he wasn’t replying and he told me he really liked me, but couldn’t handle who I was. I was really hurt and angry.

Oh no! What did he mean by that?

I don’t know! We’d been talking for six months, so he’d had all that time to decide whether he could handle who I was. Also, we’d been talking about how excited we were to see each other again and for him to come around and meet everyone, so to do all that and then suddenly change his mind felt really hurtful. But it’s his choice and on reflection I can’t say a bad thing about him – I mean, I did at the time! – but he was a normal guy with a normal job, very private and he probably was a bit scared that he couldn’t adapt to my lifestyle.

Do you think he’d have struggled going into a serious relationship with you being in the spotlight?

Maybe. He’s got a young daughter, so I do get it. But I wish he’d decided that before I really started to like him. If he’d done that in the first month I’d have felt better, because I was mortified about dating online. It was all so alien to me! It took me a good six weeks to really open up to him and trust him.

Relationships are hard during lockdown, aren’t they?

Oh, yeah. But I’m so grateful for what we had. It really helped through lockdown because it was really lovely to have someone to flirt with.

Do you think the age gap was a problem for him?

No, that was more my issue. He was 48 and I’m 56. That worried me. He got me through all that, though, that’s why I was so shocked when he ended it. I trusted him.

Has it put you off dating now?

No! I’m back on the dating websites. I went straight back on, but I’ve had to give myself a break, because guys are messaging me and I can’t be bothered to go through it again. I was swiping left constantly.

Do you get a lot of guys talking to you on apps?

I don’t want to sound big headed [laughs], I have a lot of likes! But I don’t say yes a lot.

Are you looking for someone to marry?

Oh God no, I don’t want to get married. But I’m a real romantic and I like having someone there. It’s really hard, because my three kids moved in with their partners, so I’m surrounded by couples.

How does that make you feel?

Lonely sometimes. They all go off on their date nights and I think how nice it would be to have someone for me.

What’s your type?

I like tall men, because I like to feel protected by them. For me, it’s all about chemistry. If they make me laugh, I can fall in love with them. I’ve been with guys who are gorgeous, but by the end of the night never felt so bored. I felt like I had it all with the guy I’ve been dating, that’s why I was really gutted.

What have the kids said about him ending things?

They were fuming. But they were suspicious anyway and couldn’t understand why I hadn’t met him when we could go for walks together. But he wouldn’t do any of that. I had some builders at one point doing the house and he was a builder too, so I asked him to come over and do it, but he said we’d get in trouble. The kids just felt if he really wanted to see me he’d have made more of an effort. I should have listened to them, but I trusted his reasons.

Have you spoken to many of the Loose Women about the situation?

Yeah, they said he didn’t deserve me. Brenda Edwards has been my wingwoman through the whole thing. She was there when I actually swiped right for him, but was getting annoyed with him for not meeting up with me. I had to tell her to calm down and stop putting pressure on us [laughs].

You always look so amazing on the show – is that down to your new lifestyle?

It is! A month ago I decided to go vegan and I feel so much better in myself. For the first time in my life ever I’ve lost weight without dieting. Weight wasn’t even on my mind when I started doing it, it was health. But then the weight just came off itself.

Are you feeling the best you’ve ever felt?

Yeah! I think the problem was, when I hit my fifties, because I was going through the menopause, was overweight and I’d just got divorced again, everything seemed a bit crap. But I decided to do something about it. Just because I’m in my 50s doesn’t mean I should stop feeling good about myself. Also, watching my sisters go through what they’ve gone through lead me to read and watch so much about cancer. I learnt a lot about how it’s affected by things like dairy, sugar and red meat. So, that’s also why I changed my diet.

How did you find handling the news that Anne was given the all-clear while Linda’s cancer was incurable?

It didn’t take away from being ecstatic for Anne. But obviously I wish it could have been the same outcome for both of them. Linda is always going to be a worry now.

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How has all of this made you feel about your own health?

It was so shocking to find out about the two of their diagnoses a week apart and initially my immediate reaction was to get a double mastectomy. But Linda didn’t want me to do it, funnily enough. I thought she’d be the one fully behind it.

Why didn’t she want you to do it?

Because she realised what a massive operation it is. She also highlighted that I could go through it and then get cancer somewhere else. We also spoke to a geneticist, who told us our chances are higher than the average person’s, but mine was the least high because I’d had kids earlier and periods early in life.

So, what have you decided to do?

At the moment I’m not going to go through with the mastectomy. I’m just going to keep an eye on it and if I feel the slightest thing I’ll go to my doctor.

Do you worry about that decision?

Yeah. I wonder if I should have gone through with it. You’re always going to question it. But I think Linda is right – if I went through all of it and got cancer somewhere else, I don’t think I’d be as brave as them. When I first found out about Anne and Linda, if I could have found a doctor that day I’d have run to them and shouted, “Just get them off!” I felt like cancer would get us all. But I’ve calmed down since then.

Do you ever feel scared that you might get it?

Oh my God, terrified. I’m just so sick of cancer.

You’ve been through a lot, how do you stay so strong?

I can’t say I’m always strong. I’m human. There are days where I get down. But I just have to find humour in things, because if I stop laughing then I won’t stop crying. I won’t let myself do that. Losing people that you love so much, like Bernie, makes you realise life is too short to sit and wallow in what might be.

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