Julia Bradbury: ‘Cancer saved my life because it made me rethink my own health’

She says: “There were several occasions where I just choked up and I was crying. I had to walk away and take some time out.

“It surprised me actually how those emotions regurgitate and how strong they still are.”

Two years after her cancer diagnosis and a mastectomy, Julia, 53, is speaking as part of the Men In Mind podcast spin-off, Outdoors In Mind.

The series, backing GO Outdoors and mental health charity Mind’s Hats On For Mind campaign, encourages people to talk about mental health and embrace the benefits of getting in the open air.

Julia has now overhauled her lifestyle – from sleep and food to exercise – and insists: “Cancer saved my life because it made me rethink my own health.”

But she admits the mental and emotional scars are taking longer to heal. She says: “A cancer diagnosis changes you forever. You do inevitably look death in the eyes and then start to think, ‘How many days do I have left on Earth?’.

“So it’s something that you have to work through emotionally constantly, but I don’t let it gnaw away at me.

“I’d rather work on thinking and focusing on the things that I do have, not the things that I don’t have, and enjoy every day.”

Mind has found 94% of people who tried outdoor exercise said it helped their mental health.

Julia has often sought solace in nature at tough times. They include having endometriosis and, while filming in Iceland, finding out she was not pregnant and fearing she’d never be a mum.

She says: “Walking is my therapist.

“And when we finished the trek, I reassured myself ‘You know what? My body is capable. I’ve managed this’.”

Julia now has son Zephyr, 12, and twin daughters Xanthe and Zena, eight, with husband Gerard Cunningham.

Meanwhile, her new diet includes steamed veggies for breakfast. She is also teetotal after being told the risk of her cancer reappearing would rise by 28% with multiple alcohol units a week.

She says: “I’ve had lots of great nights, I’ve danced on many tables – but, all that said, I don’t miss it. I don’t feel I need to do it any more.”

Julia, who is an ambassador for Hats On For Mind, has designed her own hat and flask, which can be purchased online and in-store at partner retailers including GO Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Naylors and Fishing Republic.

All profits from the campaign will go to Mind.


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