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Married At First Sight’s Mel Schilling ‘feeling positive’ amid cancer treatment

Married At First Sight dating coach Mel Schilling has said she is “feeling positive and confident about the future” amid treatment for chemotherapy.

The 52-year-old reality star, one of three relationship experts on the UK version of E4’s hit show, underwent a form of keyhole surgery at a London-based hospital in December 2023 to remove a tumour after she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Schilling, who has been announced as the new ambassador for colorectal charity Occtopus, The Oxford Colon Cancer Trust, spoke of the importance of “reducing the fear factor around bowel cancer”.

She said: “It is really important to me to demystify a bowel cancer diagnosis and put people at ease about it.

“It doesn’t always mean a negative outcome or a drastic impact on your everyday life, so don’t assume the worst if you start noticing any of the bowel cancer symptoms and don’t let a fear of it delay you from getting it checked out.

“My surgery was a 90 minute key-hole procedure under general anaesthetic and spinal block.

“I was in hospital for five days and went back to my normal eating and loo habits soon after the operation.

“Three weeks post surgery, I was back at work (one day per week).

“I’d say my energy levels are at about 70% now that I’m on chemo and I’m experiencing a little fatigue, bloating and nausea, but nothing too taxing.

“My prognosis is good and I am feeling positive and confident about the future.”

She added: “By promoting awareness and reducing the fear factor around bowel cancer, we can make a tangible difference in preventing and fighting the disease.

“No one should delay raising concerns about a change in bowel habit due to a worry about what might be ahead, because if caught early, a bowel cancer diagnosis can have a very positive outcome and treatment doesn’t need to turn your life upside down.”

When Schilling announced her diagnosis on Instagram she said she had started to develop “severe stomach cramps on set” while filming in Australia and visited her GP in Sydney, who put it down to constipation and gave her some laxatives.

“Fortunately I knew something still wasn’t right so I booked in for a scan when I returned to the UK,” she said.

Schilling said her “whole life changed” when she was then told she had colon cancer and according to the reality star, if the 5cm tumour had gone undetected for much longer it would have killed her.

Leading professor in colorectal surgery and chair of charity Occtopus, Sir Neil Mortensen said: “Bowel cancer has a high survival rate and there are good prospects in colorectal cancer treatment as it is a very treatable cancer if it is found early.

“Typically, 85% of patients are alive two years after major colorectal surgery.

“But for treatment to be quick and effective, the cancer needs to be caught early.

“Therefore, it is vital you get to know your body and what is right for you and push for a second opinion if you think something isn’t right.

“Also, due to huge advancements in surgical techniques and robotics, the surgery to remove the cancer can be minimally invasive with a quick recovery time to avoid heavily disrupting the patient’s day to day life.”

Occtopus pioneers new treatments for colorectal cancer, colitis and Crohn’s and funds breakthrough national and international research to improve patient outcomes and care.