AFTER being diagnosed with breast cancer and having a double mastectomy, former Corrie star Victoria Ekanoye didn’t think she would ever wear swimwear again.
But that was before an intervention from bikini queen Liz Hurley, who helped the actress get her mojo back.
Agora, as she approaches the first anniversary of her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, Victoria recalls the life-changing moment with Liz, 57, and her son Damian, 20.
Em entrevista exclusiva ao The Sun, the 40-year-old mum-of-one said: “It was a bikini from Elizabeth’s range. They were like, ‘This bikini will look amazing on you’, so I tried it on.
“That was a really big moment for me. I hadn’t worn a bikini since my surgery and I had insecurity swirling around in my head, but they made me feel really comfortable.”
And thanks to Liz’s son Damian, who takes all his mum’s bikini pics, Victoria has a collection of photographs which she knows will always boost her confidence.
‘Liz is brilliant and funny and refuses to age’
Ela disse: “Damian said, ‘Get in front of that window’, and then started taking all these photos of me.
“He’s incredibly talented. His eye captured something really special and I felt so proud when I looked at the photos he had taken.
“It was such a turning point for me psychologically.”
She landed the job on the movie just four months after a gruelling op at Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital to treat her breast cancer.
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Victoria was diagnosed with the disease in October last year depois de discovering a lump in her breast while feeding her baby son Theo, quem é agora 22 meses de idade.
A atriz, who played Angie Appleton in the ITV soap for a year and a half, disse: “It makes you aware of your own mortality — and with a young son, that was incredibly hard to think about.
“I was more aware of breast cancer than most because I’d watched my mum, Doce, and my auntie Tracy go through it.
“I was already a patron of Prevent Breast Cancer, helping to raise funds and awareness. Two of my mum’s aunts and her cousin died from it. Then suddenly I had it.”
Victoria had no idea what the future would hold as she recovered from her operation at her mum’s Manchester home alongside her partner Jonny Lomas, who runs his own business, and son Theo.
And she admits she was haunted by fear that the op would not be enough to save her.
Victoria said: “This time last year I was terrified about the future. I could never have dreamt that a year on I’d be starring in a Christmas movie with Liz Hurley.
“We’d worked together for three years on US soap The Royals before I got my role in Rua da Coroação no 2017, so to be reunited with her on the set of a movie was the most wonderful experience. I feel so lucky. Claro, there’s always that niggle in the back of your head that the cancer could come back. Secondary breast cancer is incurable, so that’s the biggest fear.
“But for the time being I just really hope that the good news and good fortune lasts.”
A sequel to Father Christmas Is Back, Christmas In Paradise tells the story of three quirky sisters who head to the Caribbean to bring back their dad James, played by Kelsey Grammer, so they can celebrate the festive season together.
Victoria says: “When I got the call I was blown away. Elizabeth is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness, so I felt in safe hands.
“The movie was my first job after my surgery. I am so grateful that I was well enough to do it. Filming was on Nevis, a beautiful, totally unspoilt Caribbean island. It’s got a magic about it and I really felt it while I was there. I was nervous before I went but I just loved it.”
Liz has been an ambassador for Estee Lauder’s breast cancer campaign for 27 years — joining forces with the company after losing her gran to the disease.
Recently she has been advocating self-checking for early signs of breast cancer, vowing she won’t give up “until women stop dying”.
And Victoria says her friend’s knowledge of the disease really helped them bond.
Ela disse: “Elizabeth and Damian took me under their wing. She’s just so nurturing as a person.
“She’s brilliant and very funny, and she’s an incredible business- woman and refuses to age. In real life she looks amazing.
“We’d see each other in the morning without a scrap of make-up on and I’d be like, how is this even fair?
“She’s also got such a good spirit and it’s passed through to Damian. He’s very talented.”
‘I had to stop for a minute to take it all in’
Victoria was also thrilled to be starring alongside Kelsey and Billy Ray, who is dad to pop queen Miley Cyrus.
She says there were “so many pinch-me moments”, including singing House Of The Rising Sun with Billy Ray — a song she had performed on O Fator X: Celebrity in 2019. Ela disse: “Billy Ray had his guitar with him the whole time, and he started playing it and turned to me and said, ‘Do you know this?’ I was like, ‘Do I?’ I started singing along.
“There were just so many moments where I had to stop for a minute and take it all in.
“I kept thinking, ‘How is this just months after all that has just happened?’”
And she was shocked to find that her US co-stars were Coronation Street fans.
Ela disse: “They all know what Corrie was. They knew about the characters, where it was based and its history.
“It just blew me away that they knew about the show and how big a show it was, and what it meant to the country and to the world which made me so proud to be a part of it.”
Victoria, who splits her time between her home in the south of France and Manchester, is now super-positive about the future.
Ela disse: “I am just living my life as much as I can. I’m still in shock at all the great things that have happened because it’s come from such a dark place.
“And it’s not that long ago. That’s the crazy thing.
Eu obviamente pensei sobre isso, mas eu tinha um trabalho a fazer.”
“Who am I to escape the one in two statistics of getting cancer?
“But at the same time, having fought my way through it and come out the other end, who am I not to live my life to its full capacity?”
- Christmas in Paradise is released in cinemas and on demand from Monday.