FORMER Eddisbury MP Antoinette Sandbach will begin chemotherapy for breast cancer today, August 27.

The 51-year-old says she will be taking time away from the public eye while she undergoes the treatment she needs.

Mum-of-one Antoinette, who still lives in the constituency, will undergo five months of chemotherapy before having an operation and possibly radiotherapy – with the treatment expected to last nine months in all.

She told the Guardian: “Like anyone else would be, I am feeling quite nervous about it, but it is just something I will have to face up to and do.

“I am really determined to bounce back from this, and that means changing my diet, dealing with the side effects of my treatment – I am going to lose all of my hair probably.

“It does mean that I will be stepping back from politics for a bit because my course of treatment is quite intensive.

“But I want people to know that I have not stopped engaging with politics because I have stopped being interested in it. I am just going to be concentrating on getting better.”

Antoinette felt the lump in late June, and her GP arranged for her to attend Leighton Hospital for a mammogram and biopsy, which came back positive.

Winsford Guardian:

Antoinette served as Eddisbury MP for more than four years

She had been given the all clear from a mammogram in July 2019, so her diagnosis one year later came as a surprise.

“It has obviously been a huge shock,” said Antoinette.

“My lump is quite big – it is 5cm by 3cm – and it is a triple-negative breast cancer, so it is aggressive.”

It is for that reason that Antoinette is so keen to get the message across that regular checking for lumps is crucial – even if you have had the all-clear before.

“It is not just women that need to check their bits,” she said.

“People have not been going to see their doctor as much as they had done before the pandemic, but we need to stay really alert.

“My lump is really quite big considering it has only been a year since my last check. If anyone has any concerns I would urge them to talk to their GP.”

Antoinette has nothing but praise for her GP surgery and the team at Leighton for the way they supported her.

Her diagnosis during the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted her family life.

While shielding has formally been paused by the Government, she will be vulnerable to Covid-19 while undergoing her chemotherapy, so 18-year-old daughter Sacha will be living with her dad separately from Antoinette as she goes through her treatment.

Winsford Guardian:

Antoinette was a Conservative MP until losing the whip last September

“It has been really difficult for my family,” said Antoinette.

“Because I am doing chemo, my immune system will be compromised, so I have to have strict social distancing – and that is quite difficult when you have a teenager.”

As she embarks on her road to recovery, Antoinette has quit smoking and drinking, and she has taken on a stricter diet.

However, she admits she is in a ‘much more fortunate position than many’ to do that, with organic foods and supplements such as vitamins being expensive.

Antoinette lost her Eddisbury seat in last December’s general election following a dramatic few months in which she lost the whip as a Conservative for taking an opposing view to the Government in a Brexit vote, served as an independent MP and then defected to the Liberal Democrats ahead of the election campaign.

She also had to contend with death threats, while she claims a complaint about behaviour from some in the Conservative Party towards her has been ‘brushed under the carpet’.

During the pandemic, she has been active in her area, taking part in a ‘good neighbour scheme’ in south west Cheshire.

“I had been looking for a job but my diagnosis makes it impossible as I am going to go through a very intensive period of chemotherapy,” Antoinette added.

“I had been doing some work in the community but it has been tough, although I have enjoyed spending time with my family in lockdown – it is time I have not had over the last eight years.

“I have remained active in politics since the election, working with the Liberal Democrats in Eddisbury trying to hold this Government to account.”