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Dame Esther Rantzen, 82, is trying to remain “optimistic” after revealing she has been diagnosed with lung cancer. The BBC presenter confirmed the news of her health issues today.

Dame Esther said in a statement to the PA news agency: “In the last few weeks I have discovered that I am suffering from lung cancer which has now spread. At the moment I am undergoing various tests, to assess the best treatment.

“I have decided not to keep this secret any more because I find it difficult to skulk around various hospitals wearing an unconvincing disguise, and because I would rather you heard the facts from me.

“At the age of 82, this diagnosis has prompted me to look back over the years, and I want to express my profound thanks to everyone who has made my life so joyful, filled with fun, and with inspiration.

“First and foremost my family. My three children Miriam, Rebecca and Joshua have been the most wonderful support, company, and source of love and laughter and I am deeply grateful to them.

“My friends have been amazing and have created memories which sustain me and give me strength.

“My colleagues with whom I have worked, and continue to work with in broadcasting, journalism, the voluntary sector, and in many other organisations have been a constant pleasure, and have amazed me with their tolerance of my wild ideas and awful jokes.

“I have been continuously inspired by the courageous children, older people and viewers who have trusted me with their life stories. I have always tried to live up to that trust. 

“As I am sure you will understand, while I am awaiting the results of the tests, I am unable to answer questions. Thanks to the extraordinary skills of the medical profession there are wonderful new treatments, so I am remaining optimistic.”

Dame Esther has made history as a trailblazer for female broadcasters.

She rose to fame on the BBC, and is best known for hosting That’s Life! – which featured investigations, topical issues and entertainment – from 1973 to 1994.

Dame Esther is also beloved for her charity work, as the founder of children’s charity Childline, which she established in 1986.

The charity offers counselling and support for children and young people, up until the age of 19, in the UK.

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Dame Esther then went on to set up The Silver Line in 2013, a charity which aims to support elderly people in the UK who are battling loneliness.

In 2021, Dame Esther received the lifetime achievement award at the Women of the Year Awards for her charity work.

She was made a DBE in 2015 for services to children and older people through both Childline and The Silver Line.

After fronting That’s Life! on BBC One for 21 years, Esther created and hosted Hearts Of Gold in the late 1980s for the broadcaster.

The presenter and journalist went on to front her own self-titled chat show, Esther, on BBC Two.

Dame Esther’s father also worked for the BBC, as an electrical engineer for Lord Reith at the beginning of the development of television.

The star recently congratulated the BBC on marking 100 years of broadcasting last year.

She praised the broadcaster, saying: “You are enormously valuable not only to Britain, but to journalism around the world.”

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