Michaela's cancer scare
2014 was a traumatic year for Springwatch's Michaela Strachan when a routine mammogram revealed that she had a small lump in her right breast.
A double mastectomy followed, six months later, by reconstructive surgery.
The initial shock was terrible but quickly, Michaela made a conscious effort to accentuate the positive, not only for herself but for her partner, Nick, who had lost his first wife to colon cancer, and for his three children, and their son, Ollie, then just eight.
“I got lots of tweets when my brush with cancer was made public the following October, all of them saying how good it was to see me looking well. It was scary, it was unpleasant, but I never really thought of myself as having been ill.”
Yet three months after radical surgery, she went into Springwatch in May 2014, feeling very drained.
“It’s a challenging show. It’s intense. The hours are long. It’s live telly, which means you’ve got to be at the top of your form.
And then, about halfway through the series, I had a complete emotional breakdown.
“I was in my caravan trying to write my script one day and I just started to cry. Someone saw me and asked if I was all right. Well, that really set me off. But I eventually pulled myself together in time to broadcast, not least because I didn’t want the public to know about my personal story, otherwise Springwatch that year would have been all about me and my breast cancer.”
Her Splash! appearance
Only a few weeks before her cancer diagnosis, she’d made the decision to take part in the TV show Splash!, never having dived before in her life. “If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to appear on national TV in just my swimming costume aged 48. The person who persuaded me to go for it was Chris Packham.
“I had no idea how painful it was going to be. My shoulders ached for weeks afterwards; I couldn’t lift my arms above shoulder level. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer and, after the surgery, I couldn’t lift my arms all over again.” The irony wasn’t lost on her.
Michaela on turning 50
Now she’s as fit as a flea, she says, and absolutely unconcerned at having just turned 50. “Truly, I was really excited about it. The reason for that is my perspective on life has changed. I’ve had cancer and I’ve come out the other side. So my attitude is: ‘Wow! I’m 50.’ I’m feeling as strong as I’ve ever felt.”
- Words and interview by Richard Barber
- Springwatch is on BBC2 now
- Michaela is giving a series of motivational talks at Fitter Stronger retreats at Buxted Park Hotel in June and September. For further information aboutcall 01732 824 443 or visit www.fitterstronger.org
Did you know...?
- Michaela has been presenting since 1986 on a variety of programmes from The Wide Awake Club to The Hitman And Her, The Really Wild Show to Michaela’s Wild Challenge, Elephant Diaries to Countryfile to Springwatch and many many more.
- She became an ambassador for Breakthrough Breast Cancer in 2014 after I was diagnosed with stage one lobular breast cancer
- Michaela is married to husband Nick Chevallier who is a cameraman/producer
- She has a son called Ollie born in 2006, 3 step children, Jade born in 1988 and Tom and Sam, twins born in 1990. She also has a Jack Russell called Toto
- She had a brief music career as "Michaela" with two UK hit singles; a cover of Edwin Starr's "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio" (UK No. 62, 1989) and "Take Good Care of My Heart" (UK No. 66, 1990). She also inspired a song by Scouting for Girls.