Dame Esther Rantzen 'remaining optimistic' after lung cancer diagnosis

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 21: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Dame Esther Rantzen attends a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Dame Vera Lynn at Westminster Abbey on March 21, 2022 in London, England. Singer Dame Vera Lynn, dubbed a forces' sweetheart during World War II, died in June 2020 aged 103. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Dame Esther Rantzen says she is optimistic about her lung cancer treatment. (Getty Images)

Dame Esther Rantzen has shared that she has been diagnosed with lung cancer - saying she "remains optimistic" as she thanked "everyone who has made my life so joyful".

The 82-year-old journalist, broadcaster and founder of charity ChildLine told the PA news agency on Sunday that she had lung cancer which had spread, saying she was finding it too difficult to continue keeping her diagnosis a secret by attempting to disguise herself at hospital.

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Rantzen, who hosted That's Life! at the BBC from 1973 to 1994, said: "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."

ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen at the official opening of a nerve centre for the nationwide young peoples' telephone advice service ChildLine.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Dame Esther Rantzen founded ChildLine. (PA)

Charity campaigner Rantzen set up ChildLine in 1986 as a support service and advice line for children and young people, and in 2013 she founded The Silver Line to help elderly people battling loneliness.

Reflecting on her life, she said: "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.

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"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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Esther Rantzen attends Pride Of Britain Awards 2019 at The Grosvenor House Hotel on October 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Dame Esther Rantzen at the Pride Of Britain Awards in 2019. (WireImage)

"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."

Rantzen added: "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."