Julia Bradbury: Breast Cancer and Me review: A dark journey through cancer which should remind us all of the important things in life

Watching Julia Bradbury: Breast Cancer and Me (ITV, Thurs, 9pm), I wondered what good this kind of ‘personal health journey’ doc could actually do.

By Philip Cunnington
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 9:00 am
Updated Saturday, 30th April 2022, 9:17 am

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and – like TV presenter Julia – had a full mastectomy of her left breast.

And, having been through the ‘scanxiety’, the often whack-a-mole approach to treating cancer, the tests and the ops, it would be easy to be scared witless seeing Julia, who has made a name for herself by being outdoorsy, fit and healthy, in tears over having to tell her young children she has cancer, or anxiously waiting for test results and treatment plans.

And yet. And yet, this candid, sometimes brutal, programme was actually about how you can live with cancer. How you can go through pain, and indignity and grief for what you have lost, and still look to the future, still have plans, still have hope.

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Julia Bradbury has been treated for breast cancer

Worried about what she has told her children about her illness, and how it might affect them in later life, Julia says: “I hope I am alive in 10 years’ time, so I can ask them how we did.”

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When you live with cancer, that’s all you can do – hope. Hope that everything turns out all right. Hope that this treatment is the right treatment. Hope that this remission will last a little longer.

And I hope that this show might allay women’s fears of mastectomy, might encourage people to get that lump checked, and remind all of us to take joy in the everyday, while we can.

"The ordinary things,” says Julia, “and the simple things and the small things are the most important things.”

We’re barely a third of the way through the year, but already Anatomy of a Scandal (Netflix) is the hot favourite for the title of Worst TV Show of 2022. Written like a third-rate soap, shot by someone with vertigo and hinging on a ‘surprise twist’ which the audience can see coming from several miles away, it is utterly appalling.

I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, but I have been binging it’s prequel Better Call Saul (Netflix). This tale of a lawyer flirting with the dark side in New Mexico has complexity, characterisation and dark humour – compared to Anatomy of a Scandal it’s like a southern fried Dickens novel.