Former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton has spent the past five years enduring numerous health issues and a series of huge, life-changing operations.
After finding out that she has the BRCA2 gene, which put her at an 80% risk of breast cancer and 30% risk of ovarian cancer, Michelle underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in 2012.
After having her second child – a boy called AJ – in 2014, Michelle made the decision to also undergo a full hysterectomy to eradicate the risk of ovarian cancer.
The effects of the operations have not just been physical, but emotional.
Michelle told Reveal that she often felt incredibly emotional:
It's really tough knowing I've still got such a long road ahead. Emotionally, there are good days and bad days. Towards the end of the [hormone replacement] treatment, I can feel myself getting more tired, irritated and not myself. Some days I'm just being a whiny bitch, the way we all do sometimes. Other days, it's not that – it's something else. You can't tell the difference.
Well, yesterday Michelle bravely appeared on Loose Women in a bikini, as part of their body positivity campaign. She went on to show the physical scars from her operations and revealed how the surgery has affected her confidence.
A visibly shaking and nervous Michelle said she'd initially decided against appearing on the show in a bikini, before changing her mind, in a bid to help other women.
At first I did say "no" because I didn't feel comfortable. But then I thought about it and decided that my whole thing is about women trying to be more confident in their bodies no matter what size they are – and to show that you can change how you look if you want to. I want to show that no matter what your body goes through in life, we're all very strong and we can be whoever we want to be and do whatever we want to do. So, I thought that if I don't do it and show everybody that you can do it, then who am I to give advice to other people?
She went on to show the scars from her two C-Sections as well as her hysterectomy scar – something which she'd only ever intended to share with her husband.
I've had two C-Sections. One was an emergency and the second one was planned because of the first. Then I had a total hysterectomy and I have a bit of a pouch. It doesn't matter how slim one gets, that's just the way that the skin and abdominal muscles have grown. I have to be careful wearing a bikini – usually I'd wear a high waisted one or a swimsuit. I wanted to keep this just between me and my husband until today.
She then pointed out the scar from a loop recorder that was implanted in her chest to monitor her heart for two years
And Michelle concluded by describing the scars across her chest and buttocks from her mastectomy and hormone treatments.
On my boobs I have scars running from the side and then all the way underneath. And then I have to have a hormone replacement implant every six months. I have a local [anaesthetic] and then the implant is put into my bum. I've had about six of those so far and it's tallying up. Every time they do another one, it's another scar.