Sonya Rebecchi (Eve Morey) receives devastating news in Neighbours next week - she has stage four cancer and needs to start treatment immediately.
After collapsing in pain, the Ramsay Street resident is rushed to hospital where doctors perform emergency surgery to remove a cyst on her ovaries, only to deliver the shock diagnosis on Tuesday 29 January the growth was cancerous and the disease has spread throughout her body.
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Deciding not to tell their family and friends while they process the bombshell, bar Dr Karl Kennedy, Sonya and husband Toadie (Ryan Moloney) now face an uncertain future. Fans should brace themselves for some emotional scenes ahead as the storyline will ultimately lead to Morey's exit from the show after almost a decade in the role. RadioTimes.com spoke to her to discuss her heartbreaking plot…
What is Sonya's immediate reaction when she's told she has cancer?
Her initial response is complete shock. Nell is starting school in two days and she doesn't want anything to impact that, it's almost like she's too busy to start treatment as a way of being in denial. Then she becomes pragmatic and starts gaining control by tackling it methodically. When she sees how devastated and scared Toadie is, you understand why Sonya kicks into gear like that. Wait until you see Ryan's reaction in those scenes, they were among the most devastating to film.
Is she being strong to protect Toadie?
Yes, it's how she finds a way through it. There is so much going on for Sonya - she knows what its like to lose parents as a kid which is what one of the things that put her into the trajectory of addiction, Toadie can't lose another wife, Nell is starting school… Her mind is racing. There's initial panic but she knows they have to move forward.
Sonya seems optimistic about her chances, is that a front?
I think when you are given that kind of diagnosis, you know there is probably no hope. I feel like she goes into that optimism mode for everyone else. Pretty early on she goes to Karl and asks him to tell it to her straight what her chances are, and he says the the best hope is five years, and a very small percentage in her position last that long. She makes the decision to fight and do what she can to protect her family, but deep deep down she needs to prepare them because she's not going to be there.
Is she thinking how she’s going to tell Nell?
Sonya is very firm on not telling the children yet as she knows that is going to be the hardest thing. How do you sit down and tell your child that? Sonya wants to remain positive in the face of hopelessness and puts off having that conversation so she can protect Nell’s world for as long as possible. Once she tells her things will never be the same again.
Did you relate to that, being a mum yourself in real life?
Yes. Even thinking about it makes me really emotional. Your motive as a parent is protection, that’s your job. To know you’ll have to cause such pain is completely against your instinct. Sonya's decision to keep life as normal as possible for now makes sense to me, and she wants to ensure they make memories and moments the kids will remember.
Who else will Sonya be able to turn to?
The Kennedys will be the big ones, and Shane and Dipi will provide family support, at least Toadie has his brother around. They are the two groups Sonya is thinking about relying on and being there for Toadie in the future. Sonya will find it hard to tell Mark Brennan as he has lost so many people already so she's putting that off. After the kids he is the most difficult person to tell, she doesn't want him to unravel.
What kind of research have you done for the storyline?
The show did research on ovarian cancer, and I did my own stuff. The biggest thing for me is about honouring this illness, and the journey of people that go through it and their families. The storyline is grounded in more of a reality than some of the other more heightened plots, so it was important for me to get as much detail right so it's as honest and as truthful as possible. I have known people with cancer so it was very personal to me in wanting to do this right. To be able to tell this story and hopefully raise awareness about the condition has been amazing and felt important.
How do you think the fans will react?
If you connect with Sonya and Toadie as characters, if you care about them and are invested in them then this is just awful. But it will end up being as beautiful as it can be. As hard as it's been to film I feel like it does stand for something, and that’s all you can hope for.
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