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Julia Bradbury on her breast cancer diagnosis: It made me re-examine my life

Julia Bradbury has said she is “grateful” for her breast cancer diagnosis as it made her “re-examine” her life.

The TV presenter, 53, revealed in 2021 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and later underwent a mastectomy during which her breast plus two lymph glands were removed before reconstruction took place.

The former Countryfile star, who appears on the cover of Prima’s October issue, opened up to the magazine about how her mental attitude and lifestyle has changed since the diagnosis.

Julia Bradbury opens up about her experience with cancer (Prima UK/PA)
Julia Bradbury opens up about her experience with cancer (Prima UK/PA)

She said: “There’s no question that a cancer diagnosis changes your life. It doesn’t define you, but it shapes you.

“It certainly revolutionised my approach to health, life and death. It brought gratitude to the forefront of my mind, it made me overhaul every aspect of my lifestyle and it increased my love of mother nature.

“I also think it made me a kinder, more understanding and more patient human being.

“It might sound like a weird thing to say, but I’m actually grateful for my diagnosis, because it made me re-examine my life.”

Bradbury revealed that she has now altered her way of life mentally and physically, which includes eating during the window of around 10am to 6pm and cutting out some sweet treats.

“I have a really healthy diet, full of vegetables, fats and protein. What I don’t do any more is have buckets of ice cream and chocolate brownies,” she added.

“I’ve also cut out booze, as alcohol can increase the risk of recurrence, and I’ve probably done enough drinking in my life.

“The question is, ‘Do I want that feeling again, or do I want to stay alive?’”

Julia Bradbury (Prima UK/PA)
Julia Bradbury (Prima UK/PA)

The broadcaster also noted that “practising gratitude” has become an important daily routine for her as she feels it can “change your body chemistry”.

She said: “I’ve never loved mornings – and I wouldn’t say I bounce out of bed now – but the first thing I do in the morning is make myself smile for 30 seconds.

“It’s proven to prompt a chemical reaction, making your brain feel like something good is going on, and it’s a nicer way to start the day.”

Bradbury previously discussed her experience in an ITV documentary, Julia Bradbury: Breast Cancer And Me, which was released last year.

The hour-long film followed the presenter as she came to terms with her diagnosis and prepared to undergo her single mastectomy.

The number of people who called Breast Cancer Now’s free helpline following Bradbury’s ITV documentary Breast Cancer And Me increased by 21%, compared with the same week a year earlier.

At the time of the broadcast, there was also a 78% increase in visits to the charity’s website, compared with the same time on the previous day, and more than 100 people signed up to make monthly donations in response to the charity’s advertisement which played in the commercial break.

The full interview is available in the October 2023 issue of Prima, now on sale.