Photo credit: The Daily Mail
Whenever I think of the DC3 classic "I'm a survivor, not gonna give up” yadda yadda yadda, I think not of the hilarity of the perfectly poised Beyonce pretending to be shipwrecked, but of daytime TV queen and perennial survivor - Trisha Goddard. What hasn't Trisha been through? Depression. Divorce. Her own DNA dramas which revealed that the white dad she believed was her biological father, was in fact not. In all honesty she could probably fill a couple of seasons of her show based upon her own traumatic life experiences. When it was revealed last year that she had breast cancer, I thought to myself: my gosh, hasn’t she been through enough? However, in no time at all she successfully battled the disease and is currently fighting fit. I must admit, I’ve never really been a fan of her show, so felt quite indifferent about interviewing her. But after a 30 minute conversation with this one woman powerhouse I'm now a fully signed up member of the Trisha Appreciation Club. In a word - inspirational. I hope you agree after reading the interview, which is also featured in the latest issue of Pride magazine, out now.
So your show recently ended on Channel 5, so this is like a new chapter in your life. What have you been doing since, and what are your plans for the future?
Actually we’re still doing the show because it doesn’t end till the end of the year. We’re still in production, so I haven’t really begun to think about it to be honest.
How did you feel when it was announced that your show would be axed, did you feel as if it was time to go, or do you have so much more to give?
I’m quite philosophical about it to be honest. I always think when one thing ends something else begins. It will be nice to be creative in other ways.
So tell us about the initiative you are involved in the NHS Patient Choice?
Well I got involved for a variety of reasons. I’ve always been involved the health world albeit the mental health world and well being. The Patient Choice is the beginning of a new initiative that I very much support because anything that supports the consumer is a must in my mind. So being able to choose when and where you go to hospital is very important. Anything that takes away the added stress of having an operation has got to be a plus. For instance my husband had to go and have an extraction to have his wisdom tooth taken out. And the hospital he went to was the hospital that I got treated for breast cancer from and that freaked him out. He didn’t think it was going to freak him out, but had he thought about that in advance he probably would’ve wanted to go to another hospital.
As you’ve just mentioned, you recently battled breast cancer. What kept you going through your battle with the disease, was it a strong sense of faith, family support, your work etc?
Yes, ditto for all of those. I had a strong sense of faith and I was very fit. The doctors told me time and time again that the fact I was working out with weights, I was running, I was still recording the show, the fact that I was fit and doing these things meant I had the energy to keep up and keep going all the way through. And a sense of faith as well, my strong family ties, specifically my husband and my daughters. And I guess the resilience that you build up over the years.
Jade Goody has been criticised for being so open about her cancer plight, but you were equally candid. Why did you make the decision to go public with news of your cancer and did you ever at all regret it?
I didn’t mean to be to be quite honest. I would have kept it quiet but the story leaked. Mainly because at the time I was so knocked for six I just wanted to hunker down with my family and deal with it. The last thing you're thinking is ‘yippee lets have a press conference’. And also when it was leaked I had some family that didn’t know about it. Only my immediate family and my business partner knew, not even my staff knew. I thought if I was going to say anything to them I would say this is the state of play, this is what the results are and this is what the prognosis is. At that point I didn’t know. So people say how brave I was to share it with the rest of the world. I could lie and say ‘oh yes, I was’ but the reality was it was taken out of my hands I didn’t have much of a choice.
Throughout the experience we saw a whole new Trisha. You cut off your hair and looked great. Are you still wearing your short crop?
Yep, I do the show wearing a wig because I don’t want the guests focusing on me. But otherwise I’ve still got my cropped hair. I’ve had the colour changed a bit to what I call black blonde. And now I’m really getting into it. And it’s funny because one of my anthems while I was running and going for treatment was the India Irie song ‘I Am not my Hair’, it’s my absolute anthem because of the positive lyrics. And it’s interesting that I’ve now gone back to my roots, literally, and wearing my natural hair for the first time since 1988. So I think you sort of get real. And I like it. I can be edgier and funkier.
So how are you feeling now?
Great. I’m still weight training I’m still running; it’s part of my life. I’ve had numerous doctors say they’ve learned a lot from me. All of them said they’ve never come across someone like me, who not only worked through my treatment but continued to run and train. I had nausea I had diarrhoea my eyes dried up, I had mouth ulcers, throat ulcers - I had the lot. But it didn’t impact on me so badly. I didn’t know that I was particularly suffering that badly because I didn’t go on those (cancer) websites as I find them a bit victim-ish. So I just thought all that I was going through was normal. And each time something came up like mouth ulcers I’d ask my doctor and I’d find out to gargle with Panadol. But it didn’t drag me down. Every time I’d start running I’d initially start off feeling like throwing up or crawling under a bush, but 15 minutes in I’d be like ‘yeah!’. I had all my uplifting ‘I Will Survive music’ on my I-Pod, so by the end of the hour I’d be ready to go and work.
You’ve been through so many adversities but always seem so unfazed by any curve ball that life throws your way. What do you attribute to this attitude?
I probably appear that way, but going through things is like wading through dog poo. But at the time, I just take it a step at a time rather than think ‘oh my God’. Plus, the more you go through the more you learn you that you can withstand. I think resilience is important, it’s the greatest gift we can teach our children. And the way we teach our children resilience is not to bail them out of every situation, but to let them know you are there and to let them figure things out. Because the more they get practice at dealing at stuff, the better they’re going to be at life. Unfortunately in this day and age too many parents are quick to bail their kids out. But my kids weren’t allowed to have mobile phones until they were in their teens. And even then they had to pay. They’ve never ever been given money. They have to work for money. No jobs, no money.
You are one of few black women on terrestrial British TV, why do you think there are still so few of us on the box?
Oooh don’t get me started (laughs). You know what I find so hypocritical. The press are raving on about how fantastic Barack Obama is, I’m sorry but it’s bullshit. Because while they’re all raving on about how it’s going to change the world, yet over here in the UK they’re just sitting here. Because we’ve got equal opportunities, and anti-discrimination laws that’s all they think they have to do. There is no will in this country. And also we have a class system that holds us back, whereas you don’t have that in the States. Okay, I’m gonna just ask a question and throw it out there. I’m on television every day. Before being on Channel Five, I was on ITV every day. Now don’t get me wrong, I know them and admire them,but Fern Britton, my friend Fiona Phillips who has been so good to me and Lorraine Kelly. Now we all see ourselves as kind of the same group. I challenge you to add up how many times the others have been on the front of magazines, and how many times I have been. Now the only time it got me down was when I was really ill and you have bad times, and I said to my husband “I must be ugly. I’m obviously not as good looking as Lorraine Kelly and Fiona Phillips because no one wants me on the front cover of their magazine.” So I’m just throwing that question out to magazine editors, why when I’m on television as much as my other friends, am I still deemed too unpopular to be put on the cover of their magazine?