KeepHealthCare.ORG – The Real Full Monty was a naked delight – which left cancer with nowhere to hide – Melanie Blake
Stripping off on live TV for more than ten million viewers is most people’s idea of hell.
But this week 16 stars of stage and screen, physically and emotionally bared all, banishing their body hang-ups in a bid to raise awareness of cancer.
There isn’t a family who hasn’t been touched by the earth-shattering diagnosis of the big C – a word, often shorted to just one letter to avoid saying it, that conjures up images of terror and tears, life and death.
But instead ITV’s two spectacular versions of The Real Full Monty made us howl with laughter and sob with raw emotion.
The Real Full Monty was a barn-storming performance by celebs railing against cancer
It showed us that, yes, cancer can be beaten and we can stick two fingers up to it.
Ladies’ night on Thursday was the most moving of the two shows.
Inspirational Coleen Nolan and her gang of seven – including broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, Emmerdale actress Sally Dexter, reality TV star Megan McKenna, former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton and Hi-De-Hi legend Ruth Madoc – shed their fears to highlight why women should check for breast cancer.
Most taking part had either suffered themselves or the disease had affected a loved one.
Coleen Nolan’s family have been knocked sideways again and again by cancer
And it was their personal stories that were almost too much to bear.
Coleen’s amazing sister Bernie passed away in 2013.
Her sister Linda is currently fighting breast cancer after first being diagnosed in 2006.
I represented Bernie and also look after Linda as well as Coleen so I know first-hand how devastatingly cancer has chased the Nolan family.
Earlier this year Linda revealed her cancer has returned and is incurable. Brave as ever she surprised the girls by turning up at rehearsals to give them all a hug.
Coleen strikes a Calendar Girls pose to promote the TV show
Victoria had a mastectomy and reconstruction, Michelle had a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with a mutated gene, BRCA2.
Both broke down in tears as they recalled their battles admitting they rarely spoke about their ordeals. Millions cried, including me as they shared their brave journeys.
The girls had nine weeks to put together a routine to their own recording of the uplifting The Greatest Showman song This Is Me.
It was an incredible challenge but their empowering performance, kitted out in glittering sequin gowns, turned out to be the performance of their lives.
Megan McKenna also joined the ladies on stage during the ITV programme
The show of absolute defiance had me in tears.
Coleen was mortified at the thought of baring all but later declared: “I’ve had three sisters in my family with breast cancer.
“If I can get one woman to go home and check themselves then, so what if I’m in my underwear or flashing my boobs.”
It was a sentiment echoed by the boys, who stripped off on Wednesday Live opening night, which turned out to be the ultimate warm-up act.
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EastEnders actor John Partridge opened up for the first time about a testicular growth and the operation that saved his life.
And how I felt for Arg, Towie’s James Argent, who agreed to take part because his grandfather died from prostate cancer.
He had such issues about body confidence he refused to shower with fellow celebrities after a strenuous pre-show workout. “The thought of taking my kit off, the shape I’m in at the moment, petrifies me.”
But he did – and again I’m sure tears were shed at home at him exposing his vulnerabilities to help others.
ITV’s two-nighter was a triumph in the battle against cancer, inspiring thousands of men and women to make those all-important health checks.
But even more important, by going starkers these 16 brave celebrities have also stripped away the fear and horror surrounding the dreaded Big C and, in the process, saved lives.