Sky News Presenter and Ambassador of Future Dreams
Jacquie Beltrao, 56, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2020, at the start of lockdown. She explains how it feels to be told your cancer has returned.
The news that Jacquie’s breast cancer had returned and was treatable but not curable came out of the blue and was quite frankly terrifying.
“When you get diagnosed with secondary breast cancer you think, ‘That’s it, I am going to die.’ You want the breakthrough cure to happen now, but nobody is spending money on that in the same way people have been spending money on vaccines for COVID-19.
There are so many different possibilities with cancer and leaps and strides are being made in treatments all the time.
Increasing commitment to cancer research
“Unless people take that urgent attitude it won’t happen quickly enough for lots of people. It is an emergency for us. We have stage IV breast cancer and we want that lightbulb moment from the lab. There are so many different possibilities with cancer and leaps and strides are being made in treatments all the time, but it is frustrating when a COVID vaccination is developed in a matter of months. For someone like me, cancer trumps COVID every day of the week.”
Jacquie has taken a relentlessly positive and pro-active attitude to her diagnosis. As a keen sportswoman and former Olympic athlete, she has always taken care of her body. Since being told she has secondary cancer, she has blended alternative treatments with the medical advice and drugs of her oncologist and breast cancer team.
“I am bombarding it,” she says. She has changed her diet, going sugar-free, she has oxygen therapy and mistletoe treatment which is good for boosting the immune system and is used regularly in the treatment of cancer in Germany.
Life living with cancer
“Although I am on the latest cutting-edge drugs as well, I was told they won’t work forever so I am doing everything I can to try to weaken the cancer in other ways.
She also has unflinching advice for the medical profession when talking to those with secondary breast cancer, who have an average life expectancy of three to five years.
“My oncologist has been very upbeat and very problem-solving. What I think is terrible is when health care professionals say things like, ‘this is going to be your last Christmas.’ How do they know? Why would anyone say that? People get miracle remissions all the time so you mustn’t take that hope away from people. Be realistic but not pessimistic. I know people who have been living with this for 15 years.”