Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson was the keynote speaker Saturday at the Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual gala at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman hotel.
She sat down with the Cayman Compass for a one-on-one interview prior to the event, where she candidly spoke about cancer’s impact on her life, weight and self-esteem, and Prince Andrew.
Explaining how she became involved with the Cayman Islands Breast Cancer Foundation gala, the duchess said several of her family members had died of cancer and she wanted to help others fight or avoid the disease. Her father, the late Major Ronald Ferguson, had melanoma and prostate cancer, she said.
“So, when it came to be invited to come here for breast cancer awareness, it was so important. Because it’s that sort of hidden, sort of frightening thing – the word cancer. The ‘Big C’.”
She added, “I worked for many years on action research for cancer and have built round about 28 teenage cancer units in hospitals over 30 years.”
The duchess’s battle with weight has been well-documented throughout the years and she said she relates to those in the community who are dealing with obesity and its related diseases, like diabetes.
“I had a huge weight problem most of my life because I was a comfort eater,” she said.
Her advice for others facing such problems is: “Don’t worry, just because you are obese or you think you can’t speak because no one is going to listen to you, please, someone is going to listen to you.
“And I think it’s horrible when you do feel obese and you feel as though you’ve lost your way, and you beat yourself up because you think it’s your fault that you’ve put on weight. Don’t worry about it. We are here with helping hands and we’re here to help you.”
Her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, recently has been the centre of media reports linking him to Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender who was arrested in July on federal sex trafficking charges before he was found dead in his jail cell in August.
“He’s the finest, most wonderful person,” the Duchess said of Prince Andrew. “He’s a man of great integrity and he’s a fabulous father to my girls.”
The amount raised on the night from the live auction was $209,300. An anonymous donor is matching the amount raised, bringing the total to $418,600.