Lorraine: Charlene White opens up on losing her mum to cancer
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One of the ITV show’s newest recruits, Charlene White, delved into what life was like for her before joining Loose Women on Monday’s instalment of the show. As well as discussing her journalistic career, the 41-year-old candidly detailed the painful experience of losing her mother Dorrett when she was in her early twenties.
As part of the show’s Life Before segment, Charlene spoke about her early family life and her appreciation for her late mother Dorrett.
Dorrett was just 47 when she sadly passed away in 2002 following a battle with bowel cancer.
Charlene was a teenager when her mother became ill at the age of 43 years old and she tragically died when Charlene was 21.
Describing what it was like dealing with her mum’s illness, Charlene said: “She became sick when I was 16.
“I remember standing in the kitchen cooking and she said, ‘I’m not very well. I’m going to have to start some treatment, but I’ll be alright.’ She never made it into a massively big deal.”
Charlene explained: “She had bowel cancer and the doctors didn’t really spot it until it was quite advanced, which is why she ended up passing.
“Any cancer you have, always try and spot it early because it increases your chance of survival.
“A lot of our childhood was spent on hospital beds doing homework. It was before hospitals had the tv at the end of the bed.
“We’d carry the portable tv from the car. She’d be sat watching Corrie, Emmerdale and Eastenders while we did our homework – we didn’t know any different.”
“Now I’m a mum, I know why she did that,” Charlene added.
“She tried to make things normal, but the pain she must have been in and on top of that never trying to let us know she was in pain must have been huge. At 21, there was nothing they could do for her.”
The presenter explained how her mother’s funeral turned out to be one of her “favourite days”.
She said: “Everyone finds it weird when I say mum’s funeral was one of my most favourite days – hundreds of people, the house was full for weeks, the church was packed full of people, the reception packed full of people.
“It was one of my favourite days because I could see how loved she was and if I can be half the person she was in the way she opened her arms to people, then I would be happy.”
Charlene grew up in Lewisham and explained her family had to “work so hard to get where we are”.
She continued: “My dad has got an amazing mathematical mind, but at no point was he given the opportunity to be able to do anything with that.
“Caribbeans came here to help rebuild the country, but they weren’t thought of very highly in most circumstances.
“We lived across the road from a family and the neighbour across the road was very angry – we were the only black family on the road and every time my parents left the house, they had to deal with not very nice things coming out of this man’s mouth because he could not understand how this black family could afford to live on the road we lived on.”
Charlene’s strong work ethic which was instilled in her from a young age saw her gain work experience at the Guardian as a teenager before securing a placement at the New York Post.
She was writing published articles at 18 and described how one of her favourite assignments was doing what Samantha Jones did in Sex and the City when she jumped on the back of a fire truck to speak to a fireman.
She then worked at Radio Extra and Meridian and was then offered a full-time job at Meridian.
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV.
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