TV star Christine Talbot tells of breast cancer battle INTERVIEW

LOOKING FORWARD: Christine Talbot who is recovering after undergoing treatment for cancer. PIC: James Hardisty
LOOKING FORWARD: Christine Talbot who is recovering after undergoing treatment for cancer. PIC: James Hardisty
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As a TV news presenter she’s tackled all sorts of difficult stories but this year Christine Talbot has been faced with her toughest challenge yet.

The glamorous Calendar co-anchor was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year and has spent the last five months battling the potential killer.

She has already been through eight gruelling cycles of chemotherapy and in a few weeks she will undergo surgery to remove the tumour, before several weeks of radiotherapy.

The bubbly 40-something, who joined Calendar as a reporter almost 20 years ago, has refused to let her illness get her down.

But she spoke of her heartbreak after the diagnosis every woman dreads because she feared she might not see her 14-year-old daughter grow up.

“My first thought was, ‘If I can just get Beth to be about 19.’

“I didn’t want to leave her while she’s still a teenager and really needs her mum. I want to be around for her when she goes to college.

“Once I know she’s grown up I can leave her then.”

Christine was left “numb” when she went to the doctor with a lump she thought was nothing only to be told: “I’ve rarely seen an innocent explanation for what I can feel.”

She said: “I knew then really. It was awful because it was the day before New Year’s Eve and everything shut down for four days so we couldn’t have any more tests.

“We were just numb.

“We couldn’t tell anybody because we didn’t want them to worry over the New Year.

“It was probably the worst New Year I’ve ever had.”

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Tests revealed she had the “most aggressive and most dangerous grade of tumour” and she disappeared from our screens at the end of January to concentrate on her treatment.

Chemotherapy has left her “cripplingly tired” at times and has thinned her trademark blonde hair, so she now wears a wig for special occasions.

But she has been overwhelmed by support from the public, who she credits with getting her through it.

“I’ve been inundated with letters from Calendar viewers and people stopping me in the street and lovely letters from people telling me their stories, in particular ladies who have been through breast cancer.”

She added: “Thank you to anybody who’s taken the trouble to do that, it has inspired me and I’ve taken a lot of strength from it.”

Christine, who lives near Wetherby with husband Chris Gregg, former head of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET), said she hoped by sharing her experience she could help others realise breast cancer is by no means a death sentence these days.

And although she still has months of treatment ahead, she is feeling positive.

“I feel like I’ve been very lucky.

“It looks like I caught it quite early – that’s what I’m being told – it’s not spread anywhere, it’s not in my lymph nodes.”

She hopes to be back on the sofa with co-presenter and friend Duncan Wood as soon as she is well enough but said the experience had changed her life forever.

“It has made me appreciate home and what I’ve got.

“It opens you up to the goodness of people, the kindness of people.

“Everything seems very different once you’ve been through something like this.”

* Christine will once again take to the stage in front of thousands of women at Sunday’s Race for Life at Temple Newsam – but this year her speech will be very different.

Instead of simply motivating the runners, she will be sharing her story and encouraging people to fundraise for Cancer Research UK in a bid to find a cure.

“When you realise how close they are, it’s important people keep ploughing money into it.”

And despite having just finished her chemotherapy, she will be tackling the 5k course with around 20 friends who have raised almost £2,000.

* There are last minute parking changes to both Saturday and Sunday’s event at Temple Newsam.

Helen Webster, Race for Life event manager said: “Due to recent weather conditions and the effect it has had on the grounds at Temple Newsam Park, only one car parking area will be usable for Race for Life events this Saturday and Sunday, with access only via Temple Newsam Road. Please do not attempt to approach Temple Newsam Park via Colton Road or from Junction 46 of the M1 as these routes will not be open. Look out for signage on main routes in the area directing you to the event.

“We ask that participants allow plenty of extra time to travel to Temple Newsam and if possible car share so we have time to help everyone park up ready for the start.”