Ash Pollard’s pregnancy and cancer shock
When Ash Pollard agreed to strip down for Seven's All New Monty: Guys & Gals, she was almost immediately violently ill.
Not from nerves at the thought of getting her gear off before a national TV audience.
Nor was it a case of food poisoning for the popular TV personality who got her showbiz start in 2015 as a home cook contestant on My Kitchen Rules.
To her surprise, Pollard discovered during the early days of rehearsals, she was pregnant with her first child.
"I had no idea I was pregnant and I was so sick … just absolutely so ill during the filming of that show, I can't even tell you," she tells The BINGE Guide, laughing.
The radio presenter, who proved a fan favourite on Dancing With The Stars and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, put her first trimester fatigue down to a year of early starts on Sea FM, on the NSW Central Coast.
"I get up for breakfast radio every morning and was absolutely burning the candle at both ends, so I just thought it was that," she explains.
An at-home pregnancy test had come back negative, leading doctors to test the 34-year-old for another condition, polycystic ovaries.
"All of the symptoms were leading toward something like that because I was getting heaps of pimples, I was super emotional, I was ill, lethargic, all those things."
She would test positive to PCO, which can hinder fertility, "at the very same time I found out I was pregnant."
The results were a shock, but did not slow Pollard down.
"I'm not somebody who sits down like a couch potato. I'm always working or I'm always doing something in the kitchen. I just thought, 'whatever, [Monty] is a great experience … whatever is happening to you now is not that debilitating, just work through it, which I did."
With Todd McKenney cracking the whip as choreographer, and dancing alongside stars including Sam Frost, Patti Newton and xx, the trained dancer still found the going tough in her condition.
"I'd have to run off to the toilet and have a quick couple of spews," she laughs, " but I got on with it."
She was inspired to join the charity special - raising awareness for breast cancer - following her own terrifying brush with the disease.
At the tender age of 19, Pollard was studying in Sydney and a long way from her family on the Gold Coast, when she discovered a lump in her armpit while taking a shower.
The innocence of youth meant she was initially convinced it was nothing to worry about but raising it with her family in a call home.
"I called my mum and said 'I've got this random lump under my arm' and as I dragged my hand across the top of my breast, I felt another one."
Anxious for her daughter, Pollard's mum urged her to see a doctor as soon as possible.
A mammogram and ultrasound confirm the two lumps, with biopsies ordered next.
"That's when it all really became apparent that this might not be a nice lump. It all started to get a bit horrifying," she recalls.
"The biopsy needle is about a metre long and they put it in but kept missing and hit a blood vessel which burst up all over my face."
What doctors found were two golf-ball sized fibroadenomas, benign cancer cells but large enough to warrant removal.
"Although it wasn't cancerous, at such a young age, I was so traumatised and didn't understand how to process all that stuff. Nothing was the same … I didn't do well at uni that year. I was so paranoid about everything to do with my health. My breasts were so bruised, the bruise went up to just underneath my chin. I felt very insecure for a long time, so I pushed it out of my mind and never thought or spoke about it again until I was asked to go on the show.
When All New Monty producers began asking her to recount her story for this week's three-part special, Pollard was taken aback by the tears which erupted as she spoke about the experience for the first time.
"It felt silly [to be crying, but also very cathartic to finally talk about … and I know now I need to talk about things like that," she says.
Still, the vivacious presenter can now laugh about her ordeal, even if bearing all wasn't the body confidence boost others spruiked it would be.
"I think I was the first person to cover up," she says of the performance, watched live by her partner Peter Ferne, his mother, her mother and aunty, all in the audience.
And not because she was nervous about her lasting scars, she adds.
"To be frank, the two lumps came out of my bigger boob and the bigger boob is still my biggest boob," she reveals.
"It's all that gelato I eat … it goes straight to my bazookas."
* The All New Monty: Guys & Gals airs Sunday, September 13, 20 and 27 on Seven.
Originally published as Ash Pollard's pregnancy and cancer shock