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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Isobel Lewis

Duchess of York says mastectomy freed her from ‘self-hatred’ after Princess Diana comparisons


The Duchess of York has described how her mastectomy helped free her from self-hatred after years of being compared to Princess Diana.

In June, Sarah Ferguson underwent surgery after being diagnosed wth breast cancer in a routine mammogram.

Speaking on Thursday’s (31 August) episode of her podcast Tea Talks, Ferguson, 63, suggested she had to have “a body part cut off” to “wake up”.

She told co-host Sarah Thomson: “Not because of seeing death, but waking up to stop worrying, stop self-hatred, stop self-doubt, stop all these things. Stop not liking yourself, really, please, honestly.

“Does it take that?... Yes, it did in my case. Honestly, it was so lucky. When I look back, [I think] OK. I’ve got good legs and look good.

“[I] didn’t like myself and that was because I think I was always compared to Diana and I think at the end I sort of believed my own press which is not too good.”

Ferguson reiterated that her sister suggesting she get a mammogram was “the greatest luck of my life” because it “saved her”.

“You’ve got an enormous scar, but you like yourself. You like yourself a lot,” the duchess said.

Sarah Ferguson said that she’d come to ‘like herself’ after surgery
— (PA Archive)

“You’ve got a badge of office, you just are what you are… which of course was the last thing the Queen said to me: ‘Just be yourself, Sarah.’

“And she saw it. She just got so annoyed when I wasn’t being myself. And that’s probably when I got into all the pickles. But now I am myself and I’m just so lucky to be able to be myself.”

Following her singular mastectomy, Ferguson had her breast reconstructed. In a recent episode of her podcast in early August, the author revealed that she was “coming to terms with my new best friend”, referring to her reconstructed breast.

“On my left, he’s called Derek,” she said. “He’s very important because he saved my life.”

Asked by Thomson why she chose the name “Derek”, Ferguson said: “I don’t know. It just made me laugh that I have now a friend who’s with me all the time who’s protecting with his shield of armour.”

Alluding to her other breast, who she joked is called “Eric”, Ferguson said: “Poor Eric on the right is feeling rather sad because he’s not as perky as Derek on the left, but I’ll get Eric balanced, don’t worry.”

The duchess also said that she is “getting much better” after her surgery, but does not expect to be able to travel for a month.

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