Michelle Heaton: “My life struggles have only made me stronger”
At 38, former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton has been through more than most, undergoing a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy and depression. Here, she shares her survival secrets…
MY HEALTH BATTLES HAVE GIVEN ME STRENGTH
I’ve put my body through a lot after having a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy to reduce my risk of breast and ovarian cancer – but I don’t regret any of it. Discovering I was a BRAC2 gene carrier turned my world upside down, but surgery was a no-brainer because my risk of cancer was so high. I’m grateful that I was able to make the choice, and going through something life-changing has made me stronger.
I’VE ACCEPTED I’LL ALWAYS HAVE MY DOWN DAYS
Since going into early menopause, occasionally I suffer with bouts of depression. Sometimes I go into a dark place, I get tired and lethargic and I don’t know how to get out. Luckily, the episodes don’t last long and I snap out of it quickly, but it’s hard for my family because they’ve only known me as a happy and energetic person. The best thing I’ve learned to do is just to ride it out.
I’M PROUD OF MY SCARS
When I appeared on Loose Women in my bikini, I was scared stiff, but I wanted to show women that you can be happy with your body no matter your imperfections. I’m not hugely body confident because of my surgery and eczema scars, but being honest about my insecurities felt invigorating. Too many people edit their pictures and, while there’s nothing wrong with a filter, I’d never make myself slimmer – it’s better to be the real you.
I WON’T HIDE MY PAST FROM MY KIDS
I do worry about my kids [Faith, five, and Aaron, three] searching my name online. I haven’t done anything unruly, but I had a separate life before them. They don’t know I was married before [to Andy Scott-lee], or about my operations. I won’t hide anything from them, as I’d hate for them to hear something from someone else. When they’re older, I’ll talk to them about my past.
TRUST IS THE KEY FOR A HEALTHY MARRIAGE
Hugh [Hanley] and I are coming up to ten years of marriage, and the reason it works is because he isn’t in the spotlight. When you’re both in the industry, jealousy and insecurity always play a part. Trust is everything. Even though I socialise a lot with my friends, Hugh [who’s a personal trainer], always knows I’m coming home, and I never make him feel uneasy.