Paula recalls: 'It was very, very painful afterwards.' But within six months of the surgery she won the New York half-marathon last August.
'I was also very close to Jane Tomlinson, who had terminal cancer and spent the last six years of her life until her death in 2007 raising £1.85 million for charity – and the wife of one of my coaches has bowel cancer,' she says.
2016 Creative Arts Emmys (TV Movie) Himself - Presenter: Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special / Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic) and Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series If Simon does get married it would be an even bigger event than the Oscars.
Usually an operation to correct a bunion is relatively straightforward, removing the abnormal bony enlargement of the first metatarsal and realigning the bone relative to the adjacent metatarsal.
However, the bunion may be arthritic, and the big and second toes may need the first metatarsal cut back or lengthened.
Now, she is in Australia as a judge for Channel 10’s So You Think You Can Dance Australia. I know I’m a good teacher and when I got the job on American Idol, I knew I was there to keep hope alive [for the contestants] and to follow their dreams; and I knew Simon [Cowell] was the disapproving dad. Primarily, he was like the bully [on American Idol] and I was there to just support the talent and then I would be defending for my life.
I caught up with the 51-year-old to chat about her love of dancing, the secret to her success and working with Simon Cowell. My entry into the entertainment business was that of being a choreographer. So he taught me to speak up and fight for what you believe in. I think starting as a dancer and having that dancer’s spirit saved my life.However, scrutinise photographs of her in vertiginous heels and the distorted tell-tale swelling of a bunion alongside her right big toe was all too apparent.And when the bunion began to seriously affect her running, the 36-year-old athlete made the courageous decision to have it surgically removed – a move she does not regret.It hurts more when you put all the work in and train for months and months for just one race, killing yourself in the process, and then you can't race because of an injury – in hindsight, caused by a bunion. 'I put off surgery because of what I saw as the risk of messing with my feet, and there's always the risk that surgery could end up not making it any better.''Without the bunion surgery I would have carried on and tried to do well in 2012, but I would probably have lurched from injury to injury,' she says.'Now I am really confident and the Olympics are my next big goal – and, along the way, I can even dress up for a night out and wear some nice shoes, although only very occasionally, as I'd never do anything to exacerbate the problem again.' Paula joined 7,000 women in a Race For Life charity event at London's Battersea Park last month to raise funds for Cancer Research, something close to her heart as her mother won her battle against breast cancer in 2008.Indeed, Paula's big toe had moved so far into the second toe, which in turn affected the third one, that all three had to be surgically realigned.