Sarah Ferguson Announces New Heartbreaking Diagnosis On Heels Of Breast Cancer Recovery

The British royal family has been besieged with medical crises of late. In a historic first, the palace announced the hospitalizations of King Charles III and Catherine, Princess of Wales, on the same day. The king will be undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate — a common malady in men his age — while the beloved princess continues her long recuperation period following a major abdominal surgery, the details of which are being kept private.

Now comes more bad news from The Firm: Sarah Ferguson is facing a new health crisis. Her spokesperson announced on January 21, "Following her diagnosis with an early form of breast cancer this summer, Sarah, Duchess of York, has now been diagnosed with malignant melanoma" (via People). The duchess underwent a single mastectomy to treat the early-stage disease. At that time, some moles were removed from her skin and examined by a dermatologist. 

Sarah went to Austria to recuperate from what may have been an initial treatment and wait for word about the next steps. Depending on whether the cancer has spread, her options may include additional surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation — or even nothing at all, if the initial surgery removed all the suspicious cells. Ferguson's spokesperson added, "Clearly, another diagnosis so soon after treatment for breast cancer has been distressing, but the duchess remains in good spirits."

Sarah Ferguson wants others to learn from her experience

There are several royal privileges that Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, still enjoys despite her divorce from Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and excellent health care is among them. There's no question her medical team will do everything possible to treat the beloved royal's melanoma if it has spread beyond the mole where it originated. If caught early, melanoma has a 99% five-year survival rate. Sarah's spokesperson expressed her hope that her experience would raise public awareness of the condition. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. The academy advises looking for the "ABCDEs" of moles during self-skin-checks: An asymmetrical appearance, an uneven border, one or more colors, a diameter bigger than a pencil eraser, and/or any mole that evolves in shape or size over time. Other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell cancer, may appear as smooth, shiny bumps, a scaly patch, or a sore that doesn't heal. Sarah's pale skin put her at greater risk for melanoma, though the disease can occur in people of any skin tone.

If there's a bright spot to Sarah's latest life challenge, it's that it coincides with her recent welcome back into the royal fold. At Christmas 2023, the duchess was invited to join King Charles III and the other senior royals for their annual post-church walkabout for the first time in 30 years. Having the support of her former in-laws will surely be a great comfort in a time of such uncertainty — and Ferguson could return the favor as the king and Kate Middleton recover from their hospital stays. 

The duchess is focusing on self-care

During an appearance on the talk show "Loose Women" in November 2023, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, candidly discussed her concerns about a recurrence of cancer, calling the phenomenon of waking up anxious in the middle of the night "four in the morning syndrome" (via The Telegraph). When Sarah learned of the skin cancer soon after Christmas, she headed to Austria's MAYRLIFE Clinic for care. "Her time in Austria helped her gather her strength, and her family is supporting her," one of Sarah's friends informed People.

On January 22, Ferguson reported that she'd left the clinic and returned home to Windsor. The duchess and her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, live together at Royal Lodge, where she can take comfort from being with her family until she receives further medical updates from her doctors. Since her diagnosis, the duchess has noted that she's been focused on recovery and self-care. "I have been taking some time to myself," she explained on Instagram, in her first post detailing the news of her malignant melanoma diagnosis. The duchess affirmed previous statements of her spokesperson and friends, adding, "I'm in good spirits and grateful for the many messages of love and support."

Similar to Sarah's actions following her breast cancer diagnosis and surgery, the duchess also expressed gratitude for the physicians caring for her. "It was thanks to the great vigilance of my dermatologist that the melanoma was detected when it was," she wrote on Instagram.