I suppose I’m best known as “The Green Goddess”. As part of the original presentation team of BBC Breakfast Time from 1983 to 1987, I was a symbol for the nation of health and fitness and spearheaded the campaign to ‘Get Britain Fit.’ I am a qualified exercise teacher and since Breakfast Time have branched out into books, videos and DVD’s focusing on health and fitness. Now aged 70 I have made a new exercise DVD for the more mature (or less fit) person called EASY FIT which is released Jan 2010.
Whenever I am travelling I avoid exposure to the sun because 7 years ago I was diagnosed with skin cancer when I discovered a patch on my shin. I had suffered from breast cancer 22 years ago so I knew not to waste any time. Hospital staff tried to freeze it, and then I had to apply this horrible cream called Efudix. These treatments didn’t work so I made the decision to have it operated on. But when they drew the area where they were going to operate on my leg I decided against the invasive surgery. I got off the operating table and went straight home because I had heard that Cancer Research UK was researching a new treatment for skin cancer in various hospitals around the UK. I rang CRUK and was told about the treatment called PDT Photo Dynamic Therapy using The Paterson Lamp. The lamp uses a scarlet coloured laser to destroy cancer cells. The closet hospital to me using it was at Gatwick and I still undergo treatment with the lamp when a new area presents on my leg.
My skin cancer is a legacy left from many, many years of sunbathing throughout the 60s and 70s with no sun protection cream. Nobody used it back then which is why it’s ridiculous that young women don’t use it today when it’s so easily available. So many women in their 50s and 60s are now being diagnosed with skin cancer. I urge everyone to wear sun cream as a safeguard for the future.
Because I have had experience of both skin cancer and breast cancer I like to do my bit to help the charities who have helped me. Last year I took up the challenge “Trek China” for Breast Cancer Care hiking through the hills and villages from Beijing along the Great Wall of China. It took about 4 months of preparation and many days I walked for 15 miles around my home area. I’m lucky that I live on the River Thames in Surrey and there are some gorgeous walks here. On long walks I go with a friend for company and motivation. I’m a great fruit eater and I also love nuts and raisins, these keep me going as well as cereal energy bars.
I was one of 40 women walking the wall all raising money for charity. We trekked from village to village along the Great Wall and carried all our provisions on our backs. We packed light but although the weather was as warm as 25c during the day it was also very cold at night! We were so proud to raise £140,000 for the charity between us! It was a fantastic experience and not bad for an old ‘un!.
Both Cancer Research UK and Breast Cancer Care are an excellent sources of support and information when you are diagnosed with cancer. I advise anyone undergoing treatment or surgery to find out as much information as possible about your illness and the treatment advised for you. Cancer charities are so helpful so pick up any leaflets or books that you can find or ring the helpline or look at the website… I feel having any treatment is like going into battle – so the more information you have, the better equipped you are. Make sure you eat a balanced diet comprising of as much nutritious fresh food as possible. Also, put yourself first and give yourself time to relax. This is the time where you need to take time out from your usual responsibilities. You owe it yourself, your family and friends.