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‘Harry Potter’ Star Dame Julie Walters Opens Up On Bowel Cancer Diagnosis

Dame Julie Walters | Image: Yui Mok/PA/Belfast Telegraph

British actress Dame Julie Walters, who starred in seven of the eight Harry Potter films, has spoken for the first time about having been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The two-time Oscar nominee and award-winning actress revealed to Victoria Derbyshire that she was diagnosed with stage three cancer 18 months ago after doctors found two primary tumours in her large intestine.

She has since undergone surgery to remove 30cm from her colon and chemotherapy and has fortunately been declared free by doctors.


Dame Julie, 69, spoke about her initial reaction as simply “shock”, having made an appointment a year earlier, after experiencing heartburn and vomiting. In her words:

“I was still thinking, ‘That’s ridiculous, he must have made a mistake, I couldn’t believe it, and then I thought ‘Right’, and then you hold onto the positive because he said, ‘We can fix this’.”

She further mentioned how heartbreaking it was for her to tell her husband of 23 years.

“I’ll never forget his face. Tears came to his eyes.”

She disclosed that The Secret Garden could be her last film role, although she’s not ruling out a return to the big screen completely.

It would have to be something I’m really engaged with [to take another role on], I’m not saying I’ll never act again. But I certainly don’t think I can go back to [filming] six days a week, [from] five in the morning till seven o’clock at night.

Dame Julie ended the interview urging those who are experiencing symptoms to “get things checked”.

Your bowel is part of your digestive system, it’s just what digests your food. Think of that. Doctors are used to bottoms. They’ve got one themselves.

Julia Walters is a writer and comedian. She is the recipient of four BAFTA TV Awards, two BAFTA Film Awards, a BAFTA Fellowship, and a Golden Globe. She has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, in the categories of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

In 2008, the English actress released her autobiography titled That’s Another Story.

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