Michaela Strachan: ‘I forget I’ve had cancer’ – Star’s ‘lucky’ escape from breast cancer

Winterwatch: Michaela Strachan opens show with beaver poem

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The 55-year-old presenter made her television debut in the 1980s before going on to host programmes such as Countryfile and The Great Penguin Escape. But away from presenting, Strachan has spoken openly about her battle with cancer, which was fortunately caught early on. After a routine mammogram, Strachen was given the devastating diagnosis by doctors. “The tears started to roll as my doctor tried to tell me what would happen next,” she explained during an interview back in 2014. “But I only took in every fifth word or so. The one word that registered was ‘cancer’.”

Following her diagnosis, the star was advised to have a double mastectomy – surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast as a way to treat or prevent breast cancer – as her breasts were too small to have a lumpectomy – surgery in which only the tumour is removed from the breast.

“How had this happened? I don’t have it in the family. I live a fit and healthy life,” she questioned at the time after her diagnosis.

“My breasts were too small for a lumpectomy – cutting out the cancer would leave them looking deformed.

“I couldn’t get my head around the fact that on Monday morning I’d been apparently healthy, by Tuesday I had cancer, and by Wednesday I was talking about a double mastectomy.

“My breasts have never been a big part of my personality – they have always been rather average 34Bs.

“I didn’t think I felt too emotional about losing them. But knowing I would in the next few days, I found myself wearing tight tops and celebrating them.

“As Joni Mitchell sang, ‘Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.”

Fortunately, after surgery and drug treatment, Strachan was declared cancer free, something that she remarkably “forgets” about.

In a recent 2021 interview she said: “It’s been eight years on and I forget I’ve had cancer.

“When people mention it I’m like, ‘Oh my God, yes I have.’

“I’m really lucky that I found mine early on and didn’t have to have major chemo or radiotherapy.

“At my first appointment the specialist said, ‘I’d go home and have a glass of champagne’. ”

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With regular check-ups the star revealed that the risk of her cancer returning is quite low. She added: “Everyone can be unlucky and get a second bout of cancer that’s not connected, but the chance of my particular cancer coming back is very slim.”

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with around one in eight women diagnosed with the condition during their lifetime.

Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue. Although ,ost breast lumps are not cancerous, the NHS advises that it is always best to have them checked by a doctor if you do notice any symptoms.

These symptoms could include the following:

  • A change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • Discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
  • A lump or swelling in either of your armpits
  • Dimpling on the skin of your breasts
  • A rash on or around your nipple
  • A change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast.

If diagnosed, breast cancer is often divided into either non-invasive breast cancer or invasive breast cancer, both of which develop in different parts of the breast.

The first, non-invasive breast cancer is found in the ducts of the breast and has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. This type of cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.

Invasive breast cancer on the other hand is where cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type.

If cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated before it spreads to other parts of the body. The main treatments for breast cancer include a combination of:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy.

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