Former Shorty star Yvette Parsons' cancer shock

The Shorty star’s psychic reading revealed a real-life medical emergency

By Cloe Willetts
When bubbly Kiwi actress Yvette Parsons turned 60 in October, she decided to get her astrological chart done by an old friend in London to mark her milestone birthday.
But what was intended to be a fun celebratory gift ended up potentially saving her life, after astrologer Laura Boomer-Trent warned Yvette to keep a serious eye on her health.
Three months later, in January this year, the Educators star was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I had a little red mark on my breast for about a year and when I took my mother to the doctor, I asked the GP if she minded having a look while we were there. She did but said it was nothing," recalls Yvette, who has an adult son, Frank, 35.
Feeling the love on Shorty.
"When my friend did my astrology chart, she said there'd be something up with my health in February or March and if I had any niggling problems, I needed to get them checked out. I decided to get my breast looked at properly."
Having missed a mammogram in 2021 because of the pandemic, Yvette went for an examination and a lump was discovered. The former Shortland Street star had immediate mammograms and an ultrasound before a biopsy unearthed two cancerous growths in her breast.
"It was as though my body was telling me something was wrong because the mark itself wasn't anything cancerous," tells Yvette, whose Shorty character Minerva McCaskill, aka Ben Barrington's mum, was ironically also diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I'm still feeling quite numb about the diagnosis and lie in bed at night saying to myself, 'Woah, I've got cancer.'"
Yvette's been apart from mum Loma.
While nature-loving Minerva opted for herbal remedies but ended up having a double mastectomy on the TV2 soap, Yvette started preparing for partial mastectomy surgery, which was delayed a week when someone visited her mother after being on a flight from Rarotonga with a Covid case.
"I've experienced so much fallout from Covid. My sister also flew over from the UK to help me at home leading up to my surgery, but then she got Covid and so I had to live out of a suitcase at my son's to isolate," says Yvette, whose first surgery in March was unsuccessful, resulting in another last month to complete the operation.
"Then my son got Covid and couldn't look after me following the last procedure, so it has been a nightmare!"
Worse, Yvette's beloved mother Loma, 97, caught the virus and ended up in Auckland Hospital's Covid ward for seven days. Since the thespian was preparing for her second operation and avoiding the virus at all costs, she was unable to visit the lipstick-loving former registered nurse, who sadly has dementia.
"I remember when Covid started and I thought, 'Imagine those poor people who have cancer and get their surgeries delayed and need to be extra careful.' Now it's me,'" muses Yvette, who was thankfully given the all-clear last week.
"I missed my mother dreadfully and she's still in hospital because, being nearly 98, she now has other health complications."
Yvette will soon undergo three weeks of radiation treatment, meaning she's unable to step in as primary carer of her mum, a role she's done for the past few years and loves.
'Then my son got Covid and couldn't look after me following the last procedure, so it has been a nightmare!'
"My mother is very funny and naughty, and even now she says the most hilarious things. She was always a wonderful mother and very kind to everyone," enthuses Yvette.
"She has always been a bit psychic, and I'll be in bed, and she'll call out, 'Who are you? What do you want?' or say her mum is standing beside the bed, and I'll get a bit shivery!"
Now, Yvette's excited to start filming season three of Educators, where she plays receptionist Sheree – a character she herself created.
"Being on the show again is so much fun and we're all friends," she shares.
"It's a real actor's dream because we'll just be playing around and laughing, since it's all improvised."
As well as a small background role in Jane Campion's Oscar-winning movie The Power of the Dog, Yvette is starring in Jackie van Beek's upcoming comedy Nude Tuesday, which is about a therapy retreat for couples having problems in their marriage.
"I play the manageress of the holiday camp, who's a bit eccentric," Yvette grins, erupting into laughter. "I always get those characters – I'm either the loony tune or the murderess. Maybe it's my laugh?"
While the longtime actress completes radiotherapy, she'll need to take time off work and thanks to a friend starting a Givealittle page, some of Yvette's financial stress has been lifted.
"I'm a single lady of a certain age and I'm renting, and just go from job to job, without any sick or holiday pay," she confides. "It's hard being an actor anyway, and then you end up with cancer, but it's very fortunate we found it."
To support Yvette in her cancer recovery, visit her Givealittle page

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