Robert Preston faces a worrying time in Coronation Street next week when a car accident puts him in hospital where doctors discover a potentially malignant tumour – how will he cope with the bombshell he could have testicular cancer?
Having ignored girlfriend Michelle Connor’s plea to get a suspicious lump checked out the previous week, Robert has lied he was told it was groin strain – despite the fact he never went to the doctor in the first place. But the brave bistro owner’s hand is forced after he runs into the path of a speeding car to save young Joseph Brown from getting run over, and ends up bouncing off the bonnet himself.
Rushed to a hospital ward, Robert is soon dealt the bombshell that could change his life forever. We caught up with actor Tristan Gemmill to discuss Mr Preston’s dramatic week ahead…
Why did Robert not attend his original doctor’s appointment?
Robert is refusing to face facts, but as time goes on we will see it is to do with his fear of hospitals having watched his father die of cancer when he was younger.
What is his reaction when Michelle broaches the subject?
He just can’t handle it, he’s terrified he might go the same way as his father but is not able to share that with the one person he really should share that with, and that’s Michelle.
What happens after Joseph runs into the road and Robert is hit by the car?
Robert ends up in hospital and Michelle uses that time while he is immobilised to get the urologist in. Robert, even though he feels backed into a corner, reluctantly agrees to an examination. The doctor says there is definitely something there which he needs to check out and immediately recommends a scan.
At the hospital, Robert admits he discovered the lump weeks ago. How does Michelle react?
Michelle has been the voice of reason. Testicular cancer is one of the cancers that if you catch it early then you have a better chance of long-term survival. In his heart of hearts he knows that…
The lump is diagnosed as most likely malignant, how does Robert react when he’d told he needs an operation to remove his testis as soon as possible?
It’s very important for Robert to feel in control, and with this he feels he’s losing that. He’s grateful the doctors have made him aware of it, but he just wants to get out the door so he hides the diagnosis from Michelle. After watching what his dad went through, he doesn’t know how to deal with this.
How do you think Robert would react to find out that it was cancer?
That’s Robert’s Room 101, his worst fear. Everything he has fought for – the business, being with Michelle – it could be taken away, and in the same way his dad died. Robert is frozen with fear and that’s why he won’t talk to anyone or do anything about it.
What happens when Robert heads to the casino in an attempt to forget his illness?
The pressure has got to him and he makes some poor decisions. He’s trying to pretend nothing is wrong but he can’t stop himself.
How do you feel about tackling the subject of cancer in this storyline?
There is a fair amount of responsibility depicting something that is sadly quite common, and I wanted to portray it in the most realistic way as possible. I hope to do it justice. If we can contribute to getting the message out there that if you find these things early, you can do something about it, then I think we can do some good.