Jenni Murray tells Radio 4 listeners she has breast cancer

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The Independent Online

The Woman's Hour programme on BBC Radio 4 was flooded with best wishes for its presenter Jenni Murray after she announced she had breast cancer.

Murray, 56, shared the news with listeners on yesterday's show, which was her last before she undergoes surgery between Christmas and the new year.

Signing off for the holidays, she said: "I shan't be around for a while in the new year because I've just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I'll be having treatment in the coming weeks - the prognosis, by the way, is excellent - and I plan to be back as soon as I feel up to it."

The diagnosis came two weeks ago while she was on holiday from the programme.

In a statement, she said: "Treatments are very good these days and I know quite a bit about this disease thanks to working on the programme." She added: Fingers crossed, everything should be all right."

The Yorkshire-born presenter wrote about Kylie Minogue being diagnosed with breast cancer last year, saying that it was "the luck of the draw" but need not be "devastating".

"Hundreds and thousands of women make a full recovery after they've had the right treatment for their cancer delivered early enough," she said. "The ones who die - and I count good friends among them - didn't deserve it, had not been cavalier with their health and fought tooth and nail for survival...

"So let's hear no more of blame, battles, guilt, positive attitudes, good nutrition or any of the other nonsense that's bandied about. It's just life and sometimes life's a bitch."

About 80 per cent of people with breast cancer live for five years after diagnosis; the 20-year survival rate is now 64 per cent, according to Cancer Research UK.

Ironically her diagnosis comes only a few months after she revealed what she would do if she became desperately ill. She disclosed in August that she had sealed a pact with two friends - Sally Feldman, a former editor of Woman's Hour, and Jane Wilton - that they would help each other to die if any of them was diagnosed with a debilitating and incurable illness. She said the last thing she wanted was for her two children to suffer.

Martha Kearney, Jenni Murray's co-presenter, said: "Everybody on the programme has been really impressed by the straightforward way in which Jenni has been dealing with this."

She added: "She's been incredibly strong and we're all wishing her the very best for a speedy recovery. We've already been overwhelmed by lots of heart-warming e-mails."