Breast Cancer & Me, the moving Julia Bradbury documentary, has been voted Best Celebrity Documentary by ED! readers in its inaugural Entertainment Daily Awards.
“I’m so pleased that people were touched by the documentary,” Julia Bradbury told us when we let her know the news.
“The most important thing is to reach as many people as possible and to spread awareness about breast cancer and just cancer in general.
“The statistics are that one in two of us will deal with a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime.
“I think it’s important that we’re aware and that we can have as many tools in our toolkit as possible to handle this if it happens to us or to a member of our family or to friends.”
Breast Cancer & Me: Julia Bradbury wins Best Celebrity Documentary
She added on behalf of her loyal and trusted production team: “Everybody is absolutely thrilled. It’s so wonderful to be recognised. It means a lot to the whole team.
“I know that it means a lot to the breast cancer community because every award like this keeps the story alive for a little bit longer. And the story here is breast cancer awareness.
“Check yourself, look after yourself and move forward. So it’s fantastic. We’re absolutely honoured. And thank you very, very much to every one of ED!’s readers who voted for me.”
Real reason Julia made the documentary
While the news of breast cancer in 2020 rocked her world, Julia revealed the reason she wanted to document her emotional journey for a TV series.
“I knew I had to do this because I’ve always been a campaigner for cancer charities and to build awareness around cancer and women’s health issues as well,” she explained.
“Both of my parents have suffered and survived cancer so I’ve always been involved in cancer charities.
“Obviously breast cancer is the number one diagnosed cancer in the world. So, being a woman, it’s something I’ve campaigned for as well, even before my own diagnosis.”
How did Julia Bradbury discover she had cancer?
The diagnosis followed the discovery of a lump almost three years before that medics initially believed was a benign microcyst. She was told it was merely “something to watch, but not something to worry about”.
However, almost a year later she was told that she had dense breasts, which makes it harder to identify cancer in a mammogram. Doctors liken it to looking for a snowflake in a snowstorm.
Julia has been happy to share her journey because she hopes it will inspire women to be extra vigilant in order to catch any potential cancers early on.
“If I can prompt and promote people to go and see their doctor I’m happy.
“I am an ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Action. I posted some of the symptoms online said if you’ve got a combination of all of these, go and see your doctor.
“Comedian Jane Godley reached out to me on social media and said to me ‘you saved my life’ because she had all of those symptoms. Now she’s out the other side of chemotherapy, and she’s still alive now. And that was a year and a half ago. So it makes such a difference if you can prompt people.”
Julia on things she could’ve done differently
Since the documentary aired, Julia has embarked on finding out as much as she can about cancer and ways of preventing it for a book she plans to publish later in 2023.
Along the way she has discovered that even though she lived a pretty healthy lifestyle on the surface, there are certain contributing lifestyle factors that can play a part in encouraging cancer.
“A lot of people said to me they were shocked by my diagnosis because I was so fit and healthy.
“People have seen me walking across the countryside and I’m slim and all of those things. But analysing my life I saw there were certainly things that I have done wrong.
“I haven’t been kind to myself or to my body.
“There were several things that I was able to pinpoint that may have been contributing factors to my cancer.
“I certainly didn’t take sleep very seriously. I’d would work through the night until two or three o’clock in the morning,” she said.
Julia added: “I had quite a lot of resilience when it came to parties. But again, not necessarily doing myself any favours for the long term.
“I travelled extensively in my younger days and crossed time zones. I did this with complete disregard for my own battery and my own energy,” she said.
She also shared with us that she is wary of her sugar intake over the years and how it could have affected her body.
“I was also addicted to sugar. And while sugar doesn’t give you cancer, taking in too much sugar messes with your body systems.
“It messes with your body’s ability to help the immune system to work properly, for the blood to circulate around the body as it’s meant to, for the liver to help detoxify your body.”
Julia said this devstating episode in her life has been traumatic but has proven to be a cruel wake-up call.
“What this diagnosis has taught me is to take these things seriously and to really try and take care of my health better. If you don’t take time to look after your health, you’ll be forced to take time to look after your illness.
“So I now I really take my sleep seriously. I try to be in bed by 10 o’clock. I don’t eat past seven o’clock any more because when you do you awaken your digestive system again.
“Sleep time is the most important time to repair your immune system. Your body gets ready for the next day. Your brain detoxifies toxins. You detoxify toxins.
“It really is the rest and repair mode. So if you eat late into the night, your body’s very busy digesting that late-night food and not doing the repair job on you that it’s meant to do.”
Doing the right thing for her children
While she admitted some people may think her strict regime means she’s not actually living a life, she is adamant that she is doing the right thing.
“I’ve got young children. I want to stay alive for as long as possible.
“I am really loving and savouring life more than ever before – I don’t even think it’s a price to pay.
“These are routines that I can implement in my life that make me feel empowered, that I know are having a genuine positive, a genuinely positive effect on my biology, my physiology.”
And so to maintain a strong body to help her deal with any health issues she may face along the way she is making sure she keeps her body as a fit and healthy as possible.
“One oncologist told me that if you do take care of yourself, if you take care of your health, if something like this comes at you, then your body and your mind will be better able to deal with it,” she said.
“If you don’t have residual health that’s when chronic illness can really take hold and become more difficult to overcome.
“If you are somebody that exercises regularly and you have to go through chemotherapy it will help you handle the chemotherapy in a better way.”
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Living with cancer – tribute to Olivia Newton John and Dame Deborah James
Julia also said that Olivia Newton John was a great example of someone who was able to live a happy life in spite of her diagnosis.
“It was very sad that we lost Olivia Newton John this year. She was incredible. She lived another 30 years after her diagnosis and lived happily and healthfully and did so much,” Julia praised.
“There’s no question, the first thing when you hear the words you’ve got cancer that pops in your mind is, oh my God, I’m gonna die.
“But I think living with cancer is going to become a wider and wider part of the conversation. Finding ways to manage it, control it, hold it down. I think that the science will lead to that.
“But there’s no question that there will be more places to explore when it comes to prevention as well.”
However, Julia is aware that not all cancer stories end happily and she admitted the deaths of Sarah Harding and Dame Deborah James hit hard.
“I cried the day that Sarah died and I cried the day that that Deborah died as well, because it’s like a stab in the chest when somebody is lost to something that you’ve had.
“In your mind, you’re thinking, oh my gosh, that could be me and you’re grateful you’re still alive, but I feel so sorry for their family.”
Julia Bradbury on her prognosis after cancer
Luckily for Julia, her prognosis is looking good.
“It’s been a year and a bit since I’ve had my mastectomy. I’ve had some mid-round bloods to check that everything was as it should be, and it was all looking good.
“I’m going for my proper annual check-up in the New Year.
“I could have had it before Christmas but just wanted to have a lovely family Christmas and embrace it and enjoy it. I’m feeling positive about it – in fact I am feeling really positive about the New Year.”
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