Entertainment: Samantha Womack will continue theatre role amid cancer battle

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Samantha Womack has revealed she will continue her gruelling theatre role as she battles breast cancer.

The former EastEnders star, 49, is  currently starring as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, which opened to rave reviews at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in the West End last month, and is running until January.

She revealed on Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer as she paid tribute to Olivia Newton-John, who died from the disease on Monday morning.

Brave: Samantha Womack has revealed she will continue her gruelling theatre role in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe as she battles breast cancer (pictured  during the performance) © Provided by Daily Mail Brave: Samantha Womack has revealed she will continue her gruelling theatre role in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe as she battles breast cancer (pictured  during the performance)

In a tribute to the late actress, she tweeted a picture of the pair with Olivia's daughter Chloe, taken when Samantha had played Sandy in the 1993 West End production of Grease.

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  Australian stars including pay heartfelt tribute to Olivia Newton-John Australian celebrities have paid tribute to Olivia Newton-John following her death aged 73 after a brave and extraordinarily public decades-long battle with cancer. The Grease star passed away peacefully at her home in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends following a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Kylie Minogue paid tribute to the iconic actress by sharing a throwback photo of herself and Olivia and writing: 'Since I was ten years old, I have loved and looked up to Olivia Newton John. And, I always will.

Samantha captioned the image: 'This was the most magical of evenings. Olivia and Chloe had come to see Grease in London and we had dinner together afterwards.

'I was so excited and in awe, she was my childhood. I now start my own battle with this disease and am left feeling deeply moved. #OliviaNewtonJohn.'

Samantha, who famously played Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders from 2007 to 2017, was immediately flooded with messages of support from her celebrity friends.

Tribute: Samantha revealed she has breast cancer on Tuesday as she paid tribute to the late Olivia Newton-John in a 1993 image with the late actress and her daughter Chloe  © Provided by Daily Mail Tribute: Samantha revealed she has breast cancer on Tuesday as she paid tribute to the late Olivia Newton-John in a 1993 image with the late actress and her daughter Chloe One to watch: The former EastEnders star, 49, is currently starring as the White Witch in the show, which opened to rave reviews at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in the West End last month © Provided by Daily Mail One to watch: The former EastEnders star, 49, is currently starring as the White Witch in the show, which opened to rave reviews at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in the West End last month

Amid her battle with cancer, Samantha is set to continue her turn on the stage, which is a physically demanding part. Understudy Rachel Dawson will take over if the star needs time off for treatment.

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Samantha is hoisted up at one point so she can 'fly' over the audience — a particular challenge during this scorching summer, she told The Daily Mail's Alison Boshoff.

'I feel like a little baked potato up there,' she joked. 'Sometimes I'm absolutely draped in fake fur... shoulder pads and wigs and flying... and the heat at the top of the auditorium is otherworldly.

'I am OK with heights. That's never been one of my phobias. When it's not 45 degrees, it's a really pleasant place to be.'

Samantha has two children, Lili and Benji, with former husband Mark Womack, who appears in Emmerdale. They split up four years ago, but have carried on living together.

For the past two years she has been dating actor Oliver Farnworth, 40. Womack reveals that the three of them now form a 'blended parenting unit' — dividing their time between homes in Bedfordshire and Liverpool.

Close: Former flame: Samantha shares children Benjamin, 21, and Lili Rose, 17, with ex-husband Mark (pictured in 2013) and offered no further details on her diagnosis © Provided by Daily Mail Close: Former flame: Samantha shares children Benjamin, 21, and Lili Rose, 17, with ex-husband Mark (pictured in 2013) and offered no further details on her diagnosis

She explained: 'We have worked very hard at creating our situation. It's not that traditional — we do all spend lots of time together. Mark often stays at the house [in Bedfordshire]; or Oli and I stay with him in Liverpool. Oli and Mark really get on.

Cast of Grease broke news of Olivia Newton-John's death to audience

  Cast of Grease broke news of Olivia Newton-John's death to audience The actor and singer, 49, who plays Vince Fontaine in the show, appeared on Tuesday's Lorraine with the news where he paid tribute to the late actress. The Australian singer died on Monday aged 73 surrounded by family at her ranch in southern California after a 30-year battle with breast cancer.

'It is nice. I think Mark and I came to the same place at the same time, so it's probably easier for us to stay friends. I know it's not always possible, if someone is in pain or hurting. But we just really enjoy our friendship.'

Daughter Lili, 17, is studying music at LIPA in Liverpool while Benji, 20, is a university student. Womack recently bought a house in Valencia, Spain, which she intends to be her principal residence with Farnsworth when she isn't working.

Cute couple: Samantha is currently dating former Coronation Street actor Oliver Farnworth, 39, and the pair live together in Spain, after relocating to Valencia at the start of the year © Provided by Daily Mail Cute couple: Samantha is currently dating former Coronation Street actor Oliver Farnworth, 39, and the pair live together in Spain, after relocating to Valencia at the start of the year

She said: 'My ex-husband is an actor, so the three of us trying to get our schedules together can be quite challenging.

'But on the plus side, we're all incredibly understanding of the fact that sometimes we just need to drop things and run to a job.

'Coming out of the pandemic, we were so desperate to remind ourselves that there was an industry. It felt very frightening for all of us, for different reasons. We were all very grateful to get back to work, because it was a hair-raising two or three years.'

The Macmillan Support Line offers free, confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. Call 0808 808 00 00 for support.

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