Updated: Sunday, 12th July 2020 @ 9:02am

Royle Family star Caroline Aherne reveals THIRD cancer battle – but says Manchester is 'best' place to fight it

Royle Family star Caroline Aherne reveals THIRD cancer battle – but says Manchester is 'best' place to fight it

| By Jon Harris

Royle Family star Caroline Aherne revealed today she has been fighting cancer – for a third time.

The Manchester-raised actress, writer and comedian who was often seen in her TV shows smoking a cigarette - has been treated for lung cancer.

The latest blow for Aherne comes after a history of fighting the illness plus a string of drink and mental health problems.

The 50-year-old and her brother, Patrick, now 52, were both born with a rare cancer of the retina – and she was left almost blind in one eye as a result.

Aherne underwent treatment at Bart's Hospital in London every four months as a child before finally given the all-clear when she was in her 20s.

She has also since been treated for bladder cancer. Her former boyfriend Matt Bower, 27, lost a battle with cancer shortly after he and Aherne split in 1997.

In a statement Aherne – who is backing a £3.4million plan to improve care for cancer patients in Manchester – said she was recovering from her latest round of treatment.

She will now launch the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership, a scheme which will bring together cancer care providers and patients to better support those affected by the illness.

Aherne – who currently narrates Channel 4's Gogglebox – said: "I've had cancer and my brother's had cancer and we know how it affects people.

"We're lucky in Manchester to have some of the best bits of cancer care with places like the Christie, the Nightingale Centre and the Cecelia Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital and St Ann's Hospice – and the last thing I want to do is knock the fantastic work that goes on in this city.

"It's brilliant that all these big institutions want to make cancer care better for Manchester people, but even the best doctors, nurses and managers on earth aren't going to be able to understand what needs improving unless people affected by cancer in Manchester get involved and tell them what needs to change.

"The reason why the partnership has been formed is because all the partners recognise that the whole cancer care system is fragmented, meaning that people do fall through the cracks.

"They've asked me to get involved and I'm really glad that I can do my bit to encourage Manchester people to speak up about where things do go wrong with cancer care.

"It's truly shocking to learn that Manchester came bottom out of 150 areas in England for premature deaths from cancer.

''Our survival rates are a quarter lower than average and the number of people getting lung cancer is a third higher here than in the rest of England.

"There are too many stories about bad communication leading to patients waiting too long and feeling ignored and abandoned and that same bad communication is contributing to poor statistics on cancer.

"The partnership needs people like us to start explaining to all the institutions what needs changing so that these big, complex organisations can get together to make the improvements."

Aherne will help launch the partnership by speaking ahead of a discussion for patients and medics on June 26.

Nicola Cook, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We're delighted that Caroline is supporting the partnership.

''We know that its success hinges on the involvement of people affected by cancer in Manchester. Caroline's one of Manchester's own.

''She's loved here and people identify with her. We hope that if people see that Caroline is sitting down and talking to us then maybe they'll know that they can too."

In recent years Aherne has been a virtual recluse, shunning the celebrity limelight to spend time with her family in Timperley, Cheshire.

During the 1990s she suffered from depression and drink problems and in 1998 she attempted suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills.

She was subsequently treated at The Priory clinic and later even underwent electric shock therapy in 2005.

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of BBC media centre, with thanks.