The tragedies of the Nolans: From Bernie’s death and Coleen’s marriage woes to Anne and Linda’s cancer battles – a look at the struggles that have befallen the star sisters
- READ MORE: Where are The Nolan sisters now? A look at her famous siblings 40 years after topping the charts
Linda Nolan’s announcement that her cancer has spread to her brain is just the latest tragedy to befall the famous family.
Since rising to fame in the 1970s, the family – which consists of sisters Denise, Maureen, Linda, Bernie, Anne and Coleen and brothers Tommy and Brian – have faced plenty of heartache, whether it be health scares, marriage woes or sad deaths.
While Linda is currently battling cancer for the third time, she and her sister Anne also both fought the disease together in 2021.
The family also mourned the death of sister Bernie Nolan in 2013, when she passed away at the age of 52 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
So, as Linda shares the latest heartbreaking update in her health battle, MailOnline takes a look-back at the tragedies that have hit the Nolan sisters.
Sad: Linda Nolan’s announcement that her cancer has spread to her brain is just the latest tragedy to befall the famous family
Legends: Since rising to fame in the 1970s, the family have faced plenty of heartache, whether it be health scares, marriage woes or sad deaths
Heartbreaking: The Nolans Sisters’ brother Brian suffered his own loss, when his wife Linzie died at the age of just 26 after contracting a viral infection
Fans will best know The Nolans thanks to the troupe of sisters, who rose to fame in the 1970s with hits including I’m In The Mood For Dancing.
But the family itself was hit by tragedy when Brian Nolan lost his wife Linzie just two years after they tied the knot.
At the age of just 26, Linzie contracted a virus, which turned into a viral infection that attacked her lungs and later her heart.
Linzie went onto lose her battle with the virus, leaving the family devastated.
The sisters also lose their mother Maureen in 2007, after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her early 70s.
Coleen detailed her mother’s health battles in a column for The Mirror, writing: ‘The disease took all that from her. My family watched her sink and felt helpless. It got to a point where it was too dangerous for Mum to be left on her own.
Their mother was moved into a care home during her final years, and died in her sleep after celebrating her 80th birthday.
Anne also previously discussed with MailOnline the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her late father Tommy Nolan.
Bravely writing: ‘At 11-years old] I trusted him. Maybe this was something dads did with their daughters. My overwhelming reaction was one of puzzlement. I remember thinking to myself: ‘Why is Dad doing this?’.
In later years, the Nolans received another bombshell, when they learned that they had a half-sister, as their father had a child with another woman during an affair in the 1950s.
Despite their best efforts and DNA testing, the sisters never managed to find their sibling, who is believed to be the same as Denise, born around 1952.
Linda previously told OK! Magazine: ‘When our dad died our mum told us that we had a sibling and she thought it was a girl, and she was happy for us to try and find her.
‘She told us how it happened and that dad had a fling and this woman was pregnant the same time mum was pregnant and I’m one of the ones who is so excited.
‘It was Maureen who went further and she did the DNA test and so we might find something out.’
Tragic: Linda was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and while undergoing treatment she lost her husband of 26 years Brian to the disease
Sad time: While Linda was battling incurable cancer, her sister Anne was also diagnosed with breast cancer before being given the ‘all clear’ in 2020
Hard times: In March 2022, Linda revealed her cancer had spread to her brain, while battling the disease for a third time
The main tragedy to have beset the Nolans remains the devastating cancer diagnosis, with multiple siblings battling the disease on more than one occasion.
In 2005, Linda was the first, diagnosed with stage three breast cancer after finding a lump in her breast.
While she underwent gruelling treatment, Linda’s husband of 26 years Brian tragically died, after he was diagnosed with skin cancer, but she went onto get the all-clear in 2006.
She previously admitted she struggled to move on following his passing, telling the Belfast Telegraph: ‘Life without Brian is a nightmare. He was my soulmate and I miss him terribly.’
In 2017, Linda revealed she’d been diagnosed with a form of incurable secondary cancer in her hip, which later spread to her liver in 2020.
At the same time, sister Anne was also diagnosed with breast cancer before being given the ‘all clear’ in 2020.
The sisters underwent chemotherapy during the Covid pandemic, where restrictions prevented them from being accompanied by other members of the family for support.
In an extract from their book Stronger Together, shared by The Mirror, Anne credited Linda for helping her through the therapy, which left her with traumatic side-effects
‘When [other sister] Maureen called to say Linda and I could have our chemotherapy treatment together, I cried with relief. We’ve shared every emotion – the highs and the lows – and we are stronger together because of it.’
In March 2022, Linda then shared the heartbreaking news that her cancer had spread to her brain, days after celebrating her 64th birthday.
She said on Good Morning Britain: ‘I’ve always been hopeful with my treatment and what’s going on in my life.
‘I just want to tell you unfortunately for me my cancer has spread to my brain and that’s obviously frightening because there isn’t much treatment for brain cancer except for chemotherapy.’
She added: ‘I’m not giving up. I’m positive. I’m going to lose my hair again for the fourth time.
‘I’ve moved back in with my sister to live, I was having falls, the cancer in my brain was affecting my balance and I had three quite nasty falls.
‘So, as usual, my amazing family – I’m back living with my sister Denise and her partner. Maureen has been looking after me for the past few weeks.
‘I’ve bought a wheelchair, we’re getting stuff ready for the inevitable really. It’s a scary trip to be on this one.’
Linda said she’s trying to remain positive: ‘I don’t know how long I’ve got left and that’s not me being morbid or anything, but I don’t know, none of us know really. So for me, it’s making the most of every day and spending it with people I love.
‘Just being positive: ”Yes, I’ve beaten it before,” I’ve been fighting it since 2005 originally and then I’ve beaten it before, so hopefully I can do the same again. Obviously, with the great help I’ve always had from the NHS.’
RIP: In 2013, Bernie Nolan passed away after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, and despite being given the all-clear the disease returned in 2012
In 2010, Bernie was then diagnosed with breast cancer, and after gruelling chemotherapy and a mastectomy, was given the all-clear.
However, in 2012 she learned the cancer had returned, and had spread to her brain, lungs, liver and bones in 2012.
Despite her terminal prognosis, Bernie vowed she was ‘living’ with the disease, and began taking medication to control it.
In 2013, Bernie tragically passed away at the age of 52, with her family at her side.
At the time a statement from the family said: ‘The entire family are devastated to have lost beloved Bernie, a wonderful wife, adoring mother and loving sister; she is irreplaceable.
‘The mum-of-one had been being cared for in a hospice but returned home to be with her family for her final days.’
Over: Alongside her siblings’ health woes, Coleen has had her fair share of person struggles, splitting from her first husband Shane Richie in 1999 after nine years of marriage
Split: In 2018, she then shared an emotional statement r evealing she had split from her second husband Ray Fensome after ten years of marriage
Alongside her siblings’ health woes, Coleen has had her fair share of personal struggles, splitting from her first husband Shane Richie in 1999 after nine years of marriage.
In 2018, she then shared an emotional statement revealing she had split from her second husband Ray Fensome after ten years of marriage.
Coleen, who publicised her fight to save her marriage over the ‘hellish’ year, admitted that while she was ‘convinced they would grow old together’, there was inevitably ‘too much diving them’ – causing their marital breakdown.
News of her marriage troubles first emerged over a year earlier when Coleen confessed that she and Ray were struggling to salvage the distance between them – after he admitted he no longer found her attractive.
Taking to her column she revealed: ‘We can’t go back. There is too much dividing me and Ray. I can hardly sit here and keep dishing out advice if I’m not being totally straight about what is going on in my own life.’
‘Once you know your marriage is truly dead you need to make your peace with that, bury the past and move on. After 17 years together that’s what I’m about to do.’
Explaining her state of mind as she penned the letter, Coleen revealed: ‘I’ve got tears pouring down my face as I write this. It’s hard to imagine that so much could have changed from that day when we married. On that day I thought there was nothing that could split us up.’
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