EXCLUSIVE: Carol McGiffin on her no-nonsense attitude to her cancer diagnosis

After surviving a failed celeb marriage, a sex drought and a struggle with debt, former Closer columnist Carol McGiffin, 55, shares what she’s learned about life and love.

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by Fiona Day |
Published on

Health matters

You don’t necessarily feel ill when you have cancer - when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I felt perfectly well, like there was nothing wrong with me.

The chemo is poison though – over time, I felt shocking and when I lost my hair I wore beanies instead of wigs, because I was cold all the time.

I didn’t make it public that I’d been ill until after I finished treatment.

It was easier then, because it was over, and the support was just lovely. I had loads of cards and was overwhelmed with it all.

Love & Marriage

It’s important to make mistakes when it comes to relationships.

After all, how can you know when you’ve met Mr Right if you’ve never met Mr Wrong? I married Mr So Wrong (DJ Chris Evans) back in 1991, which taught me two things:

First, never marry in haste, which is why my fiancé Mark (Mr Very Right) and I have been engaged for six years.

And second: Never get involved with anyone whose raison d’etre is to be famous.

Carol with Mark last year
Carol with Mark last year

Lets talk about sex!

I’ve discovered that there are three types of sex. Good sex. Bad sex. And no sex.

Good sex is usually with someone who’s been around a bit and isn’t so good-looking they think their gorgeousness is enough to get you off.

Bad sex is down to selfish, lazy men only concerned with their own satisfaction. These men need to be guided.

I’ve done it a few times and my advice has always been appreciated.

I see it as a service to other women who then go on to benefit from my teachings. And then there’s no sex.

I went without it for seven years from 2001 until 2008, when I met Mark.

It wasn’t a problem- in fact they were some of the most uncomplicated years of my life!

On the money…

From an early age, I realised the world doesn’t owe me a living and, if I want something, I have to work for it.

It took me slightly longer to learn that debt is not good when I had to do a runner from a flat I was renting and move back in with Mum while I paid off my credit card debts.

It took me two years and involved a five hour daily commute to London on a coach because it was cheap.

So now, if I can’t afford something, I won’t buy it. I know the true value of money because I’ve always had to earn it.

People who are given money all their lives have no idea. I don’t envy their wealth.

Bouncing back after the sack

I’ve learnt a lot about tackling a change of career- I’ve had no choice.

I was sacked from my first job at Rumpy Bar, a burger restaurant in Maidstone, Kent, where I earned 20p an hour back in 1975.

It set the tone for my working life, as I’ve been sacked or made redundant from almost every job I’ve had.

Obviously, it’s no fun losing your job, however much you hate it. The key is: Don’t take it too personally.

And on the positive side, being sacked probably meant I opened my eyes to opportunities I might not have considered. Otherwise, I’d probably still be at the Rumpy!

Your time is now!

I still don’t know what the meaning of life is and I have no idea why we’re here, but we are, so I think we have a duty to whoever created us to get on with it.

Two pieces of advice have helped me do that. One is the Chinese proverb: “The only time that can be possessed by you is NOW”- it's true because the past is gone and the future might not happen.

The other is the song by Baz Lurhman called Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), which uses the words of an article written by Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and includes the words: “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.”

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