I can’t imagine how Joan Collins must be feeling right now. She found out only a couple of weeks ago that her sister, novelist Jackie Collins, had breast cancer, and Jackie is already gone. Joan didn’t have any time to digest the news at all. She wrote an essay, saying good-bye to her sister.
Joan shared how Jackie broke the news to her.
The telephone call I never dreamed I would receive came in at 5pm. It was a gloomy, thundery afternoon in the south of France, and my husband Percy and I were bunkering down in our bedroom to decide which movie we would watch after dinner.
‘Hi sis, it’s me!’ she said. I was delighted to hear Jackie’s familiar voice. She had told me weeks earlier that she was coming to the UK and we were already planning a host of activities, so I assumed this was one more opportunity to share the excitement of her arrival.
‘Isn’t it a bit early for you?’ I asked her. ‘It’s 8 o’clock – I’ve been up for a while,’ she said. ‘Are you with Percy? I need to talk to you both about something. It’s rather bad news I’m afraid.’
‘What is it?’ I asked fearfully. ‘I’ve got stage four breast cancer,’ she said, her voice breaking. Then I burst into tears. ‘I’ve known for seven years,’ she added bravely.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ I cried as Percy held me tight.
‘I couldn’t – I didn’t want to upset you. I know all the problems you’ve been having in the past few years – I didn’t want to burden you with mine.’
My voice was so choked with tears I could hardly speak. She explained that since we spent so much time in Europe, while she was in LA, she knew I would be worried but there would be nothing I could do.”
Joan wrote that after she spoke with Jackie, she called her nieces (Jackie’s daughters), Tiffany and Rory.
‘But we all expect her to continue for several years since she is so vital and energetic,’ said Tiffany. ‘And she’s just done a publicity tour of the US for her new book.’
Jackie was coming to the UK ostensibly to publicise the launch of her latest novel. However, now, in retrospect, I realise it was to say goodbye to her third daughter Tracy, her two granddaughters, her brother Bill and his wife Hazel, and some other close friends, all of whom lived in London.”
Joan had noticed Jackie’s weight loss, but Jackie simply attributed it to cutting back on sweets, so Joan didn’t think anything more about it. While in London earlier this month, Jackie threw her daughter Tracy a birthday party.
She was her usual sparkling, funny, energetic self, taking masses of pictures of all of us on her iPhone and her camera, and looking impeccably groomed and glamorous.
She seemed full of joie de vivre as we chatted happily about our Christmas plans in Los Angeles and about going to Hawaii with her children and grandchildren after that.”
You can read Joan’s entire essay in London’s Daily Mail. It must be such a shock. Something tells me Jackie didn’t expect to pass away so soon. I read her interview in People: she viewed her Stage 4 breast cancer as a chronic illness rather than a terminal one. That mindset may have helped her cope with her illness. She set quite an example throughout her life and even in her death. That’s quite a legacy to leave behind.
Photos by FAMEFLYNET