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Julia Bradbury: Telling my children I had breast cancer was the hardest thing

Julia Bradbury said her children have been ‘amazing’ throughout the process (Ian West/PA)
Julia Bradbury said her children have been ‘amazing’ throughout the process (Ian West/PA)

Broadcaster Julia Bradbury has said telling her children about her breast cancer diagnosis was the “hardest thing” she has ever had to do.

The TV presenter, 51, underwent a mastectomy in October during which her breast plus two lymph glands were removed before reconstruction took place.

Bradbury opened up about her emotional experience of being diagnosed and undergoing treatment while on ITV’s This Morning, reducing presenter Holly Willoughby to tears.

The former Countryfile star recalled the difficulty in telling her three children, Zephyrus, 10, and seven-year-old twins Xanthe and Zena about her breast cancer.

She said: “Telling your children you have cancer is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in your life.

“You also don’t know how much you tell them to be realistic, and how much do you need to protect them. It’s a very tricky balance. I don’t think any parent really knows what to do.”

Bradbury added: “One of my children said ‘Can I still hug you’ and the other said ‘Is it contagious?” I never thought about either of those two things.

“You just don’t know what’s going through their mind. You do your best, but it’s a very difficult thing to navigate.”

The presenter also admitted she did not tell her mother about her diagnosis until she knew her plans for treatment as she knew she would worry.

Holly Willoughby and Lee Mack show
TV presenter Holly Willoughby became emotional when watching a clip of Bradbury’s new documentary about her cancer experience (Ian West/PA)

Bradbury has discussed her experience in a new ITV documentary Julia Bradbury: Breast Cancer and Me, which will air on Thursday at 9pm.

The morning talk show played a clip from the documentary of Bradbury speaking to her children about her breasts which caused Willoughby to tear up, saying: “That got me.”

Bradbury added that her children have been “amazing” throughout the process, saying: “They’ve made friends with my new boob!

“They say ‘Mummy, it doesn’t feel the same’ and I say ‘No it doesn’t, but I’m here and that’s what it’s done.”

She explained that she wanted to make the programme as she has been honest about her journey from the moment she discovered a lump on her breast.

“My mother had cancer, my father had cancer, so I’ve been an ambassador for several cancer charities throughout my career and, ironically, I am an ambassador for ovarian cancer in the UK,” she said.

Bradbury noted that documenting her experience felt like a “natural progression” as she updated her followers about having mammograms and encouraging other women to trust their instincts and to go to the doctor if they find something.

She added: “I didn’t suddenly want to drop off the face of the earth and not talk about what happened to the lump and mammograms.

“I know that by being open about this, people feel I’m there with them through some of their journeys and it has broken some of the stigmas about breast cancer and talking about it, and the impact it has on everybody in your life.”

This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV and ITV Hub

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