After 17 months, Denise Scott has something to celebrate – finishing chemo

"My family kept me fighting."
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Denise Scott has been to hell and back in a near-two-year ferocious fight against breast cancer. But the beloved comedy queen now has plenty to smile about – she’s finally finished her gruelling treatment, her latest mammogram was clear, and she’s just about to become a grandma again!

Denise kept filming Mother and Son while undergoing treatment. (Image: Supplied)

“As we speak, our daughter Bonnie is having contractions. We’re all so excited. This will be her second child, after having [our grandson] Lenny in 2021,” says Denise as she cuddles in close to her partner of 44 years, entertainer John Lane.

“If I’ve learned anything over the last 17 months, it’s that life really loves to surprise you,” chuckles Denise.

On January 24, 2023, the plucky star was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, HER2-positive, just as she’d moved from Melbourne to Sydney to start work on ABC-TV’s new Mother And Son series.

“I worked on Mother And Son while undergoing treatment which, all up, was nonstop for 17 months. I decided to continue working as I didn’t want to stop production,” shares the stoic star, 69.

“In February 2023 I started a three month-long round of chemotherapy. Then in June I had a lumpectomy and the removal of lymph nodes from my right armpit. There was six weeks of radiation therapy in August, and then nine more months of chemo, which ended last month.”


Denise scott in hospital bed, receiving treatment for cancer
Therapy has often been “debilitating” for the star. (Image: Instagram)

In May, Denise posted a startling photo to her Facebook page, showing her undergoing therapy and sharing her journey, which included the ordeal of losing all her hair during her first round of chemo.

“John has been extraordinary. He drove me to every appointment, and sat with me through every consultation and chemo session. His dedication was unwavering,” she shares.

“While undergoing radiation I developed third-degree burns. A nurse would dress them in the morning, and John would dress them every evening. This went on for five weeks. For the past few months John gave me injections to boost my white blood cell count.

“Yep, it’s all been pretty sexy stuff. I could not have done this without him,” smiles Denise, paying heartfelt tribute to her “rock”, who she met in 1981 in Albury where they were performing as clowns.

“He never failed to make me laugh, no matter how difficult things became. I thought that I’d be one of those patients who never complained and copped it fairly on the chin. But no, not me – I complained,” she says.

Her husband John has been her rock. (Image: Getty)

The unflagging love and support of John and Denise’s kids was also crucial to keeping her spirits high during therapy.

“Our daughter Bonnie and her partner Max live nearby, which means I get to see lots of them and our grandson Lenny!

“I’d be in bed feeling nauseous and anxious, then Lenny arrives and there’s no question – I have to get up and play with him. His current favourite game is to declare, ‘You’re under arrest Grandma,’ at which point he mimes putting me in handcuffs.

“He then places a little doorstop right next to my foot which indicates that I’m now in jail and not allowed to move. I’m not so sure what a psychologist would make of this game, but my heart sings with happiness.”

Denise’s son Jordie, a songwriter, and his partner Clare also call weekly from Nashville. “It’s always uplifting to hear their beautiful voices, y’all. It’s very frustrating for them, though, as I refuse to do FaceTime.

“I’ve not loved being bald, looking frail and feeling so tired, and I couldn’t be stuffed getting out of my pyjamas, having a shower and putting on any makeup. I mean what’s the point of using mascara when you have no eyelashes?” she laughs.


Her pups and grandkid Lenny have been the best medicine! (Image: Instagram)

“Our dogs Yoga and Lambkins have been faithful companions. No matter how long I lay in bed obsessively attending to my colouring-in books they are happy to lie snoozing beside me. They’re not big on conversation but it has been great to have the company.

“Finishing treatment feels quite weird. What now? How do I go forward? Does the fear of cancer returning ever go away? Do I even believe that the cancer’s gone?” she ponders.

“One thing that I do know is that I’m heading back out into the world a very different person – I’m both excited and fearful to see what awaits me.”

Says John, “Denise never lost her sense of humour throughout any of this. I’ve always loved her laugh, and the way that she’s made Australia laugh. I’m looking forward to her getting her mojo back.”

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