The 56-year-old has had a stage three tumor removed from her left breast and is about to start chemotherapy. But she says, “I don’t want to make this cancer my life.
“When I tell people, they’re like, ‘I can’t believe you can talk about it and be so positive’, but that’s the reality and you have to be positive.”
Malandra, who played Kathy Glover on the ITV soap opera for 16 years, was diagnosed in February after discovering a lump the month before.
After seeing her GP and being referred to a hospital for a CT scan and ultrasound, a consultant asked her to come back and bring someone with her.
Malandra said: “I thought, ‘I have to take this on my own. I’m single and felt like I couldn’t do this to a friend.
“When I walked in I found myself greeted by a nurse from Macmillan and I knew it. She almost broke down saying to me, but I just said to myself, ‘Don’t be an idiot!
“We’ll get through this and I’ll ring that bell [to mark the end of treatment].
“I had already galvanized myself before hearing the news so I never cried about it.
“I kind of went into fight mode. If I look back, I gave it my all and that’s all I can do.
“When it’s your life that’s at stake, you’re willing to do anything to get out of it. It helped me focus.”
Doctors told Malandra that her type of cancer may have been caused by menopause. She told S magazine this week: “Davina [McCall] did a fabulous job of bringing menopause to the fore, but I had never heard of menopausal cancer.
“They told me that because of estrogen and how your hormonal balance changes, it’s one of the main causes of breast cancer.”
She decided to share her story to help raise awareness and encourage women to get checked out: “I say to all women, go get a mammogram. Regardless of your age, if anything looks suspicious, go to your general practitioner.
“It’s half a day of your life to potentially save your life.”