Jean’s cancer story begins in EastEnders as she breaks down to Shirley

Doctors urge further tests for the anxious Slater

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EastEnders begins the heartbreaking cancer storyline for Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) this week when her GP tells her she needs further tests after a visit to the local surgery. Will she confide in anyone about her health fears?

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The doctor tells her patient she needs to be checked out more thoroughly during a consultation on Monday 11 February, and although she insists it’s a purely precautionary measure jittery Jean can’t help but fear the worst. Consumed with worry, she keeps the news to herself and lies to daughter Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner) everything is fine…

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It becomes clear all is not well with Jean as she lays into Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) when he tries to apologise for how he treated her while they were briefly dating, and Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) notices she’s not her usual self and tries to get her to cut loose with a night out at the E20.

Despite Shirley’s best intentions the impromptu clubbing session on Tuesday 12 February backfires when Jean realises she’s been tricked into gatecrashing a hen night at the Walford bar, but she’s already brought baby Cherry along with her thinking the pals were going to have a more sedate kind of evening.

Snapping at Shirley and storming off, Jean is followed by her friend who is concerned when she breaks down in tears – but the stressed Slater still can’t bring herself to open up what’s really troubling her, and on Thursday 14 February Big Mo Harris (Laila Morse) confronts her relative having been tipped off about her meltdown by a worried Shirley. Will Jean confide in her family and friends?

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When does Sean Slater return as part of Jean’s cancer storyline?

EastEnders’ senior executive producer Kate Oates revealed last month Jean will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, so viewers know what the tests will ultimately lead to. “Jean’s diagnosis will impact every aspect of her life, including her family, her friendship groups and her mental health,” she said. “I know an actor of Gillian’s calibre will approach the story with great truth and depth.”

Wright herself has spoken of the challenging scenes ahead: “I’m aware of the impact such stories can have. It’s important we treat the issue of cancer diagnosis and treatment with huge sensitivity, dignity and respect. I hope the storyline helps awareness of the disease and is supportive to those that are affected.”

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The tearjerking plot will also see the return of Jean’s estranged son Sean Slater more than a decade after actor Rob Kazinsky quit the show. “I have always been proud of what EastEnders has done for social awareness and that is why I’m back,” he said when his comeback was announced in January. “To tell a story that means something to me with the family that I know can tell it right.”

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