MAFS' Mel Schilling thought she was jet-lagged. Then she was diagnosed with stage three cancer.

Married At First Sight expert Mel Schilling has opened up about her health journey as she embarks on her fifth round of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. 

The MAFS star, 52, initially disclosed her cancer diagnosis just before Christmas last year and has since undergone surgery, currently undergoing chemotherapy. 

Watch: In Her Shoes - Lea's Cancer Story. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

In her most recent update, Schilling admitted that each passing day feels more challenging than the previous one.

"It’s getting tough now," she told The Mirror. "I’m about halfway through and it’s getting hard. Feeling fatigued and nauseous is a bigger part of my everyday life. It feels like I’m hungover or pregnant every day, which is not fun."

Schilling reflected on her cancer journey, saying that at first she thought it was simple jet lag impacting her.

"The last quarter of 2023, I was in Australia filming MAFS and there was a crossover with filming in the UK so I had to fly back and forth," she told the publication. "That was hard because it's a long flight, so you've got the tiredness and the jet lag and I'm 52! My body was complaining about all the long-haul flights and I thought that's all it was."


However Schilling began to quickly lose weight and experience stomach complications. 

"My digestive system packed to a halt and I started having stomach pain. I wasn't paying attention to my body because I was so busy. I'm a big foodie and I noticed something was really wrong when I couldn't eat anything or even hold down a cup of tea.

"Once I got home, I realised I hadn't eaten anything in around a week and I hadn't been to the toilet in three weeks. I'd lost over a stone in weight and I was on a liquid diet by this point. I wasn't even aware of how much I had lost, so things were serious. But I never thought it would be cancer."

Since her diagnosis, Schilling has aimed to talk about her situation to destigmatise bowel cancer. 

"I want to get people talking about this and remove the ridiculous stigma we talk about other bodily functions. We talk about boobs all the time when it comes to breast cancer. Let's talk about poo as well."

Despite her recent fatigue, Schilling told Heart Breakfast's Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden that she's "doing well" and feels fortunate to not be losing her hair.

"I'm doing well. So, this is currently a week off in my chemo cycles, which is why I've got quite a lot of energy today. I'm doing well. Thank you," she said.


"I've learned there is a lot of different types of chemo... so the type of chemo that I have, doesn't really make me sick. 

"It's not going to make me lose my hair. 

"I have other side effects like tingly fingers, that's a funny one and very sensitive to cold. So, I have to wear gloves a lot. And just a little bit tired."


Schilling is currently residing in the UK with her husband, Gareth, 51, and her daughter, where she's filming for MAFS UK while navigating her diagnosis.

"In true 'me' fashion, the day we moved was the day I started chemotherapy. I don't do things by halves. It's been a tricky time as I've been adjusting to going through that and moving house. But Gareth has been doing most of the move so I'm very lucky he's happy to pick up the slack," she told The Mirror.

How MAFS' Mel Schilling discovered she had cancer. 

Last December, Schilling began to notice her body behaving differently than usual. From sudden weight loss to persistent stomach pain, the dating expert sensed that something was amiss.

"My digestive system packed to a halt and I started having stomach pain. I wasn’t paying attention to my body because I was so busy. I’m a big foodie and I noticed something was really wrong when I couldn’t eat anything or even hold down a cup of tea," she told the UK tabloid.

Upon receiving her diagnosis, Schilling shared a photo of herself hugging her husband and eight-year-old daughter Madison on Instagram.

"YOU HAVE CANCER. Three little words that everyone dreads but no one ever expects to hear," she said.

"I put it down to all the travel I'd been doing and the upset it caused to my system. I saw my GP in Sydney and he put it down to constipation, gave me some laxatives and sent me on my way," Schilling explained.

"Fortunately I knew something still wasn't right so I booked in for a scan when I returned to the UK. On Thursday I was told I had colon cancer and in an instant my whole life changed."

She said she had planned to spend Christmas with loved ones in Northern Ireland, but was preparing for surgery.

"Tomorrow morning I'm checking in to hospital to have an operation to remove a 5cm tumour in my colon, a tumour that had it gone undetected for much longer would have killed me," she wrote.


At the time, Schilling said she felt "incredibly blessed that it's a cancer that is relatively easy to eradicate" and despite a tough road ahead, she was expected to make a full recovery.

"It will be so tough to spend Xmas Day in hospital instead of being surrounded by family but getting rid of Terry (what I've named my tumour) will be the best present of all," she said.


She thanked her family and "TV family" for their support, and ended with a message to help others.

"If something doesn't feel right, please, please don't ignore it and if you don't think the answers you have got are right, keep going until you do, it might just save your life."

Following the surgery, Schilling delivered another update, this time with positive news.

"Yesterday lunchtime I had keyhole surgery to remove my tumour (AKA Terry) and in the words of my amazing surgeon it couldn't have gone any better," she wrote on Instagram, underneath a photo of her in the hospital.

"Crucially the cancer hadn't spread to my abdominal cavity, which was our greatest fear but was entirely localised in my colon.

"Over the coming days I will discuss my treatment plan going forward but suffice to say that Terry is toast!"

Schilling has been an expert on MAFS Australia since 2015. She joined the UK version of the series in 2021.

This story was originally published on December 20, 2023, and has since been updated with new information.

Feature image: Instagram @mel_schilling1.

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