Up until last week, it seemed Cheryl Cole was unstoppable.
But after unexpectedly collapsing on the set of an X Factor shoot on Sunday 4 June, then discovering she has the deadly disease malaria, the singer got her harshest reality check.
The 27-year-old star’s mapped-out future is hanging precariously in the balance.
‘This situation is devastating for her on so many levels,’ an insider tells Now.
‘Being helpless, scared and not in control right now will be more difficult for her to handle than for others.
‘She’s totally bought into this “brand Cheryl” thing.
‘Her mum Joan’s been pleading with her to take a year off.’
Experts warned that Cheryl, who had fluid on the lungs and who says she ‘feels like death’, wasn’t recovering as speedily as initially hoped, meaning she could be out of commission for the foreseeable future.
Malaria is likely to recur in patients who haven’t built up a strong enough immunity, so Cheryl is very vulnerable if she doesn’t change her current lifestyle.
‘It’s not known which strain of the disease Cheryl has yet,’ says Dr Wiselka, a specialist in infectious diseases at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
‘She’ll need a period of rest and to seriously pare down her schedule. If you’re under strain, it affects all your organs and can be fatal because it affects the blood, which then travels around the body and can cause complications.’