Holly Willoughby was visibly moved as she watched a clip from Julia Bradbury’s new ITV documentary. It follows Julia’s very personal experiences, from emotional video diary entries to navigating having to tell her young children about her breast cancer diagnosis.
The 51-year-old TV presenter was first diagnosed with the disease in July and underwent a mastectomy in October during which her breast plus two lymph glands were removed before reconstruction took place. She has shared her journey with her followers on social media.
And now, Julia appeared on This Morning to take about her ITV documentary, J ulia Bradbury: Breast Cancer and Me, which airs at 9pm on April 28. Explaining her reasons behind doing the documentary, she said: “I’ve been honest about the discovery of my lump from the very beginning because I’ve always been a campaigner for cancer.
“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 continued: “But when I did discover the lump, I was very open about having mammograms and encouraging women to go to the doctor if you find something – trust your instincts and I even posted a picture on my social media accounts of me having a mammogram. It was just a natural progression from that.”
Julia added that sharing her experience “seemed like the right thing to do.” She explained: “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.”
The mum-of-three children – son Zeph, ten, and seven-year-old twin daughters Zena and Xanthe – then recalled being told the devastating news she had cancer saying it was “completely unbelievable,” adding: “Until you’re in that situation, you don’t know how you’re going to react… You immediately think about death when you think of cancer… There are very few people who live through a cancer diagnosis and never think about it again in their lives.”
Julia also spoke about the moment she told her children, with partner Gerard, her diagnosis. She shared: “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.”
She 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.”
A clip from the documentary of Julia speaking about her breasts and the journey she’s been on with them throughout her life to date played out and featured her children looking at her chest and feeling her scars. Returning to the studio, Holly said: “That got me,” with tears visible in her eyes.
“Yeah, I can’t look at that,” Julia said as Holly replied: “I’m not surprised.” Julia added her kids have been “amazing,” 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.'”