Body

"Chemotherapy is a smack in the face": MKR's Manu Feildel is supporting his Mum through her cancer battle from the other side of the world

''It doesn't matter if you're the healthiest person on the planet, it can happen to you.''

By Rebecca Sullivan
Celebrity chef Manu Feildel normally has several plates spinning in the air at once - both literally and metaphorically - but right now the Frenchman is enjoying some unexpected downtime at home with his family in lockdown.
His TV projects are temporarily on hold - and just last week it was announced MKR would not be returning to our TV screens following a lacklustre ratings performance this season - yet there are still plenty of silver linings for the 46-year-old as he spends some much-needed time with his children and wife Clarissa.
He's also regularly checking in with his mother in France, following her recent breast cancer diagnosis.
We caught up with the much-loved cooking star - from a distance of course - for an update on his Mum's condition and his message to all Australian women.
Manu, what have you been up to for the past few weeks?
I'm pretty much doing nothing. It's really nice to be able to reconnect with my family, to be honest, because it's something we simply take for granted when we're busy working.
How are your kids coping?
Charlee is five, so she goes to the French school. She started again this week and [son] Jonti is 15 and doing one day a week at school, starting tomorrow. So that's what we're doing at the moment.
We've done a lot of cooking, because we love cooking. The Monopoly board came out over the past couple of weeks... we like to play Monopoly. And we've watched everything on Netflix! [Laughs].
Manu, with his son Jonti, from a previous relationship, his daughter Charlee and wife Clarissa. Image: Instagram
You're an ambassador for Breast Cancer Trials, an organisation raising money to fund clinical trial research, and your Mum was recently diagnosed with breast cancer herself. How did she first realise something was wrong?
She was diagnosed about six months ago and it was a lucky thing, because once you get to a certain age you get a letter in the mail and you get the check for free. She said, 'Why not?' and got checked and they found a little lump.
She decided to go further and got rid of all of her nodules and she's been on treatment with chemo. She has a few more sessions to go and she has to go through radiotherapy. She's lucky, they got it really early.
Manu and his mother Evelyne, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six months ago. Image: Supplied
It must have been awful to receive that phone call?
It was a bit of a shock. I think my Mum was strong enough because she had been told there was very little risk that it would progress further. She was happy to get on with the treatment.
But chemotherapy is a smack in the face. It really takes over your body and the loss of your hair, which is not great.
But we've been able to laugh about it. My stepdad has no hair so we've been joking, 'Oh, do you guys use the same brush?' [Laughs].
How have they been affected by this pandemic?
They are in Level 4 lockdown in France so they are not allowed to get out at all. It's crazy.
They live in a small village, so compared to a big city, I suppose the risks are less. Because she is recovering from cancer, she is not allowed to see anybody at all.
Evelyne is currently in lockdown in France. Image: Supplied
Manu is encouraging Australian women to regularly get tested for breast cancer. Image: Supplied
Were you able to catch up with her for Mother's Day?
We always do a video call with the kids. We do that pretty much weekly. It was a pretty normal weekend for us.
She is doing fine and she is nearly at the end of the chemo treatment, which she is happy about.
WATCH BEOW: How well do Manu and Pete Evans know each other? Story continues after video.
Do you have a message or any advice for people out there who might have some concerns about their health?
It doesn't matter if you're the healthiest person on the planet, it can happen to you. It doesn't matter what age you are, it can happen.
Just go and get your check done.
For more information or to donate, visit breastcancertrials.org.au