Coronation Street star was Yorkshire woman’s cancer lifesaver

Gillian Swalwell.
Gillian Swalwell.
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A breast cancer survivor has Coronation Street’s Sally Webster to thank for saving her life.

A series of chance events meant Gillian Swalwell saw Sally Dynevor – who plays the character – talking about her battle with cancer.

Mrs Swalwell, 46, caught the interview immediately after noticing her own breasts had changed. After the actress described the warning signs, the Leeds mum went to see her GP and was soon diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mrs Swalwell, from Halton, Leeds, said: “If we had not bought the new TV, if I hadn’t had it switched on after taking a shower that morning and if Sally hadn’t been on GMTV talking about breast cancer at that moment I walked in from the shower, then things could be very different for me. My husband says it was the best £120 he has ever spent.”

Her husband Andy wanted to watch the World Cup last summer and so his wife could escape from football, bought a television for their bedroom.

One morning after having a shower, the civil servant noticed her breasts were uneven.

“I went back into the bedroom and it was Sally from Coronation Street on, talking about how she found her breast cancer because of what was happening with her character,” she said.

“I thought ‘maybe it’s not right’.”

Mrs Swalwell saw her GP that day and was referred for tests which showed it was breast cancer.

“It had never crossed by mind it was anything serious,”

she said. “Seeing that interview was just complete coincidence. The doctors said I had caught it early.”

After telling her 14-year-old daughter Hannah and other family, and spending a day sharing the devastating news with friends, she underwent surgery last July to remove lymph glands.

Following a holiday, she had chemotherapy - and in another parallel with the Coronation Street star, Mrs Swalwell shaved her hair off before she lost it. She decided not to wear a wig and donned an array of hats.

In January she had surgery and then three weeks of radiotherapy.

Now she is back at work full-time and says she is so thankful that Sally Dynevor spoke out about her own battle.

A Coronation Street spokesman said: “Sally and everyone at Coronation Street are thrilled that Sally’s experience has helped Mrs Swalwell and others like her.”

Mrs Swalwell and her daughter are also taking part in their first ever Race for Life, at Temple Newsam in Leeds, in aid of Cancer Research UK.

“Research is brilliant and anything that can be done to raise money for it is a good thing,” she said.

* Three Race for Life events are taking place in Leeds over the weekend of June 25 and 26. Sign up at or by calling 0871 641 1111.

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