Beloved Australian comedian Denise Scott has revealed that she was diagnosed with a “particularly aggressive” form of breast cancer while filming reimagined classic sitcom Mother and Son.
In a candid interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly, Scott shared that she had been diagnosed with cancer just one day before starting her role as Maggie Beare in the ABC reboot.
“The night I noticed the rash, I thought, ‘This is breast cancer’,” Scott told the publication.
“Then, when the GP said mastitis, there was a momentary sigh of relief. But she also said, ‘You’ve got to have a mammogram as soon as possible.’ And then I think I knew.”
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Doctors then informed the actress that she had an aggressive form of cancer and needed immediate treatment.
But despite her shocking diagnosis, the 68-year-old continued to film the 12-hour-long days while simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy and blood tests.
“This production meant a lot to me,” she said.
“But the doctors were making it clear: ‘you have to start chemotherapy within days.’ I don’t know who first suggested I try to do both, which in hindsight was insane. I think it was me. I was thinking, I don’t want to shut this whole production down, and I was also thinking, I want to live.”
For 6 months Scott dealt with the challenges of cancer treatment. To help alleviate her fatigue and physical discomfort, the production company used a body double to step in whenever the cameras weren’t rolling.
She was also assigned a carer who would take care of Scott while in production.
“He picked me up every morning, took me home every night, and he would shadow me – I mean shadow me. He had an umbrella, a water bottle and a chair. When I had to go to the toilet, he would follow and stand at a tactful distance,” Scott said.
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Despite her cancer diagnosis, Scott’s co-star Matt Okine, who plays her son, Arthur, said she put on an award-worthy performance as Maggie.
“I mean, ask anyone on the set and they’ll tell you that the performance that Denise put into this show is nothing short of a world-class achievement,” Okine said.
“What she was going through personally and the character that she was able to build, and the moments that she was able to make, I mean, we joked but we were like ‘you deserve the Gold Logie already’.
“We would say it all the time because you can’t tell me someone who is putting in a bigger effort than you right now and coming up with the goods like you are right now.
“None of us could believe how well she did considering what she was going through and it was really tough seeing … the fatigue and the physical struggle that she was clearly quite visibly going through, day in, day out and the mental struggle … it was just awe-inspiring.”
Mother and Son is scheduled to air on August 23 on ABC TV and ABC iview.