Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins has told how she felt “powerless” when a friend and fellow television presenter was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Hawkins said it was “horrendous” to learn that Sky News presenter Jacquie Beltrao had the disease, and urged people to check themselves regularly so they could have early treatment if needed.
Beltrao, 52, was diagnosed almost five years ago and has since had a mastectomy, reconstruction and chemotherapy.
Hawkins said: “The hard thing is, you feel powerless.
“It comes as a huge shock.
“When Jacquie told me her news it was a bolt out of the blue. It was horrendous because you’re desperately worried for them and you want to do whatever you can to help.”
She said it had made her more mindful of the disease and ensuring people kept track of changes in their body.
She said: “When Jacquie was discussing how she discovered hers, I thought, it’s really important to check.
“You could be living with a lump or you might have noticed changes. It’s really important to check and make sure.
“If there’s anything there, you can catch it early and get treatment early.”
Beltrao said she relied on her friends, including This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes, during treatment.
She added: “It’s nice to have friends you can talk to about things other than hospital.
“Charlotte and I live 20 minutes apart and she would pop in after work.
“Charlotte was the first person I showed my boobs to after my surgery. They were all taped up and we both agreed they looked great.
“You rely on your friends a lot going through breast cancer.
“I really appreciated Charlotte and Eamonn at work at the time. It’s not necessarily how are you, it’s what can I do for you, what do you need?
“Sometimes it’s if you could bring me a lasagne I can give to my family or pick up one of the children from school. Practical things are what you need sometimes.”
Their tips for helping friends facing the illness include being a good listener, keeping in touch, and suggesting a choice of practical support.
They are encouraging people to sign up for Breast Cancer Care’s Pink Ribbon Walks this summer.
The events will take place at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire on Saturday May 12 and English Heritage’s Audley End House and Gardens in Essex on Saturday June 9.