Lingerie model Caprice Bourret diagnosed with benign brain tumour


On the surface, she is the same willowy blonde who stormed the fashion world during the 1990s, appearing on countless prestigious magazine covers including Vogue and Sports Illustrated. 

Caprice Bourret still glows with buoyant good health and measured self-confidence.

But as she reflects on the trials of the past 12 months, Caprice knows she came perilously close to losing it all.

Today, in her first newspaper interview since being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, the former model admits she has been forced into a radical overhaul of a life once dedicated to professional success – and a complete re-evaluation of what it now means.

For the tumour, although it proved benign, was dangerously fast-growing and risked leaving her blind and paralysed. 

Caprice Bourret (pictured with her two sons Jett and Jax) still glows with buoyant good health and measured self-confidence, but last year she was diagnosed with a brain tumour 

Caprice Bourret (pictured with her two sons Jett and Jax) still glows with buoyant good health and measured self-confidence, but last year she was diagnosed with a brain tumour 

Removing it required more than seven hours of risky surgery, which in itself could have had devastating consequences.

Indeed, although she has now fully recovered from her terrifying health scare, it has changed 46-year-old Caprice irrevocably.

‘My diagnosis was the scariest time in my life,’ she admits. ‘My first thought was for my two little boys. I had no idea what was in store. I feared I’d leave them without a mum.

‘I’m a tough girl, a survivor, a grafter. I’m not dramatic or emotional. I’ve made my own money from the second I left high school. But for the first time in my life, I’ve realised that I am not totally in control.

‘I have to have annual check-ups for the next four years to ensure the tumour doesn’t return.

‘When you go through a health scare like this, you are thankful to be alive and healthy. My priorities have changed. 

‘My family means everything to me. I’m going to stick around until I’m 90 because my kids need me.’

Caprice admits she has scaled back her once-punishing work schedule in order to stay close to the most precious things in her life: her four-year-old boys, Jett and Jax. 

Her television commitments have been reduced and her successful lingerie and homeware company, By Caprice, licensed out.

‘I’m now making it my goal in life to make a difference,’ she says.

‘I’ve totally had to re-evaluate my life. I used to go to Hong Kong God knows how many times a year – I had four factories to deal with. I would get up at 5am to talk to Asia and then start again at 8am with my warehouses and stockists.

‘But I just couldn’t do the 12-hour days any more, so I’ve just licensed out my brand. I love making money and for me to let go of something that I built up from nothing is so damned difficult. 

Today, in Caprice's (pictured) first newspaper interview since being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, the former model admits she has been forced into a radical overhaul of a life once dedicated to professional success – and a complete re-evaluation of what it now means

Today, in Caprice’s (pictured) first newspaper interview since being diagnosed with a brain tumour last year, the former model admits she has been forced into a radical overhaul of a life once dedicated to professional success – and a complete re-evaluation of what it now means

‘I gave my passion, heart, blood, soul and sweat to this company and now I’ve got to step back.’

The health scare has sparked a new sense of determination as Caprice channels her energies into raising awareness of brain tumours and the lack of funding for research.

As she now knows, brain tumours can happen to almost anyone. And yet, although they are diagnosed in around 16,000 people every year in the UK alone, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to the brain. 

Her own tumour was discovered in extraordinary circumstances. Caprice was filming TV series The Jump in Innsbruck in February last year when she began experiencing odd symptoms, which at first she put down to a tough regime learning the slalom, skeleton and ski-jump.

‘I had a pain in my ribs that was getting worse every time I took a breath,’ she recalls. ‘I had headaches that weren’t going away, and my vision was getting blurred. 

‘But I just thought it was because I had banged my head so many times during training.’

The programme’s doctor insisted she went to hospital, where she had X-rays, an ultrasound and a CT scan.

‘The neurosurgeon came in, sat down and said: ‘We have the results of your CAT scan. You have a brain tumour,’ and I was totally confused. I didn’t understand what she was talking about.

‘Then she told me, ‘I’m not sure if it’s benign or malignant.’ And I said: ‘I don’t understand what you are saying. 

‘What is benign? What is malignant?’ And she said: ‘One is cancerous and one is not.’ 

‘Then I started screaming and crying. I asked: ‘Am I going to die?’ And she said: ‘It looks like it’s benign but you need to fly home and find out.’

‘By then I was crying hysterically, not knowing what my fate was. The hospital was so worried they wanted to keep me in and sedate me, but I said: ‘No way. Get me out of here.’ ‘

Despite her panic, Caprice called her partner, financier Ty Comfort, but downplayed the risk.

‘I just said: ‘Listen. It doesn’t look like it’s serious. It’s not a big deal. We can probably get rid of it. I just need to take tests and I’m coming home.’

‘I didn’t even tell him it was a tumour. I told him it was a growth in my head. I didn’t want to worry him until I had answers.’

Caprice flew back to London with Jump presenter Davina McCall. ‘She was so great,’ she remembers. 

‘I’ve known her for so many years and she was incredibly supportive. She kept checking on me. She really cared.’

Caprice and Ty, who live in a Grade II-listed house in West London’s Notting Hill, went straight to an appointment at private Harley Street hospital The London Clinic with consultant neurosurgeon Peter Bullock.

He told her that she had a meningioma, a tumour that grows on the membrane that covers the brain, just inside the skull, and needed an operation. Around 90 per cent of such tumours are benign.

‘I had to wait a month for surgery,’ she says, ‘as my body was a bit of a wreck. That was the worst part, waiting around.

‘The surgeon told me that he thought it was benign but you are never 100 per cent certain. 

‘There are so many worries when it comes to brain surgery. I wasn’t worried about dying myself. If I die, I’m gone but I was worried about my family and my children.

‘Normally, I’m not a dramatic kind of person. But in that month, I went through so many different phases. 

‘One day I woke up thinking, ‘This will be fine.’ The next day I would worry, ‘Am I going to wake up after the operation? Or will I die?’ ‘

The surgery took place last March, with Ty dropping her off the night before. ‘I just needed to deal with this alone,’ she explained. ‘That month had been the worst time ever. Why would I want to put my family through that?’

The operation took seven and a half hours. A strip of hair was shaved from her head and her skull opened to access the tumour.

‘The next thing I knew, I had woken up in intense care with tubes coming out of every orifice. I was so thankful to be alive. It is such risky surgery, anything could have gone wrong.’

Dr Bullock told her the tumour had grown from the size of a pea to the size of a thumb in the weeks between her diagnosis and surgery.

‘It is scary to think it had grown so quickly, that I could have woken up, God forbid, one day with the left-hand side of my body paralysed or with my eyesight gone. That’s the risk when it pushes on the brain.’

Caprice spent a day in intensive care and another three days being checked every ten minutes in case she had a seizure or other problem. She had to keep her head elevated and was barely allowed to move.

‘It was so uncomfortable,’ she recalls. ‘I had this massive bandage on my head, was not allowed to walk and had to lie as still as possible. It was awful. I barely slept.

‘I was supposed to be there for a week but I was there for four days. My doctor said to me, ‘I’ve never known anyone heal so quickly.’ ‘

Seeing her boys was wonderful, despite their comments about her new headgear. ‘They were so cute,’ she says. 

‘They said, ‘Mommy that’s a funny hat.’ And I said, ‘It’s so in fashion. Everyone has this hat.’ ‘Really Mommy? We want that hat then.’ And I said, ‘No. Trust me. You don’t want this hat.’ ‘

A year later, Caprice has regained her strength, although needs annual check-ups. She has even landed a role in Ray Burdis’s new film Last Kings Of London, which is being filmed later this year, as well as a Harvey Keitel movie.

But her main new role is as a campaigner. She was recently appointed patron of the charity Brain Tumour Research and has herself donated £20,000 to help raise awareness of a disease which strikes down more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer.

She is also backing Wear A Hat Day on Thursday for the charity to raise funds. The campaign follows an e-petition launched by this newspaper, which garnered 120,000 signatures and led to a £45 million injection of Government funding.

She knows only too well the lasting legacy of such a tumour. ‘When you have surgery like that, it traumatises your body,’ she says. 

‘I had a lot of hair loss, which really freaked me out. I thought I was going to go bald, but it was the trauma from the surgery.

‘Then I had a bunch of grey hair growing back. It was crazy. That’s why I chopped 7in off my hair.

‘I also go for weekly vitamin drips at a wellness clinic to build up my immune system. I’ve taken all the tests and I am really strong again. Everything is back to normal and I intend it to stay that way.’ 

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