Thursday 18 December 2014

Catherine breaks silence on huge toll of husband's cancer ordeal

Josie Ensor

Published 14/07/2013 | 05:00

OPENING UP: Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones with her husband, actor Michael Douglas, after his diagnosis of stage four throat cancer.
OPENING UP: Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones with her husband, actor Michael Douglas, after his diagnosis of stage four throat cancer.

CATHERINE Zeta-Jones has spoken for the first time of the emotional toll she paid for husband Michael Douglas's battle with cancer.

Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2010 and went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

He recently said he had been clear of cancer for more than two years and was "95 per cent" confident of it not returning, but said that the treatment had, at the time, left him "very weak".

Now Zeta-Jones, 43, has described the impact his diagnosis had on her.

They married in 2001 and have two children, Dylan, 12, and Carys, 10, who they live with outside New York City.

The Swansea-born actress tells next week's edition of The Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine that she feared she would be unable to cope when her husband learnt of his cancer.

"When Michael was diagnosed with cancer I really thought, 'You are going to have to wipe me off the floor'," she said.

"This happens to people all the time, but it's still a huge shock when the cards start to fall and you realise, 'My God, it really is happening to us'."

She added: "I thought I didn't have the [emotional] tools to cope. But it's amazing where the strength comes from – from family and friends, from strangers supporting us."

Douglas, 68, earlier this year provoked controversy when he appeared to suggest that his cancer had been caused by the HPV virus, and that it had been transmitted through oral sex.

Zeta-Jones declined to be drawn into discussing the cause of his cancer.

She said that he had shown great strength during the treatment, which involved chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time, as the cancer was at stage four when it was diagnosed – with "stage five" being death.

"He's a very matter-of-fact person. Once he was diagnosed he was like, 'Okay, what do I do?' He wanted that thing out of his body so he just blitzed the . . . It was very intensive but he still retained his sense of humour," she said.

"He was very open with the children. No secrets – they went and saw him having treatment. Together, we all coped with everything.

"It did make us closer. But I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

After his treatment Zeta-Jones was treated in hospital for bipolar disorder.

She told Stella that she had been coping with bipolar, which is characterised by extreme mood swings between euphoria and clinical depression, for some time.

She said: "When you get sideswiped like that [by her husband's illness], it's an obvious trigger for your balance to be a little bit off – not sleeping, worry, stress. It's a classic trigger."

© Telegraph

Irish Independent

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