Dame Joan Bakewell shares incredibly candid insight into cancer battle


Dame Joan

Dame Joan Bakewell, 89, was diagnosed with cancer late last year (Picture: Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Dame Joan Bakewell has spoken candidly about her colon cancer diagnosis and her treatment process.

The veteran broadcaster, 89, was diagnosed with cancer late last year and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment following surgery.

Explaining that she’s ‘fed drugs through a hole below her shoulder’, Dame Joan revealed her diagnosis has made her ‘more contemplative’ and urged others to go for check-ups.

What’s more, Dame Joan confirmed in a new interview that she’ll continue to work throughout chemo and is currently filming Landscape Artist of The Year for Sky Arts.

‘I’m finding the whole process fascinating,’ she said of her treatment.

‘I have a little bumbag and in it is a plastic ball full of chemotherapy drugs. It’s fed into a hole below my shoulder and I wear it for 48 hours at a time.’


Dame Joan
Dame Joan has spoken candidly about her colon cancer diagnosis and her treatment process (Picture: Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock)

Dame Joan
The veteran broadcaster joined the BBC in the 50s as a studio manager before shooting to fame in 1965 when she starred on Late Night Line Up (Picture: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Speaking to The Times, the BBC veteran added: ‘It’s inconvenient, of course, for work, but I’ve only missed one day’s shooting, and it’s quite hard to sleep at night, but as I tend to wear extremely loose clothes now no one’s noticed it.’

Dame Joan’s sister, Susan, died of breast cancer at the age of 58 and the iconic presenter confessed she let her colonoscopy checks slip during lockdown.

It was during a routine colonoscopy in 2o22 that a growth was discovered.

‘Now I’m campaigning to get everyone to check everything regularly as they age and send off for those kits where they can check if you have blood in your poo,’ she shared.

Dame Joan

Dame Joan went on to host popular programmes throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s and was awarded a peerage in 2011 (Picture: PA)

Sir David Attenborough
Dame Joan revealed that the one and only Sir David Attenborough, 96, occasionally checks in to see how she’s doing (Picture: PA)

As for how her cancer diagnosis has affected her outlook on life, the screen star noted: ‘Cancer has made me more contemplative. Our time comes up after a certain time and obviously, mine will be up fairly soon one way or another.’

She also revealed that the one and only Sir David Attenborough, 96, occasionally checks in to see how she’s doing and find out whether she’s still working.

‘We aren’t competitive; it’s comfort,’ said Dame Joan, who joined the BBC in the 50s as a studio manager before shooting to fame in 1965 when she starred on Late Night Line Up.

Of being a woman in a male-dominated industry, the trailblazer said: ‘I felt I was beating my fist against a brick wall when men at the BBC told me no woman could ever read the news.

‘Look at the women now; confident, gracious, insightful. It’s marvellous, but I don’t feel it’s due to me.’

Dame Joan previously told Staffordshire University: ‘My big TV break was Late Night Line Up, a daily live magazine programme on BBC2 which started in 1964, and I joined in 1965 as a presenter. There’s nothing like it on TV now. It was great work.’

She went on to host popular programmes throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s and was awarded a peerage in 2011.



Macmillan cancer support

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan can offer support and information.

You can contact their helpline on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week from 8am to 8pm), use their webchat service, or visit their site for more information.


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