Dame Esther Rantzen says she has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
The 82-year-old broadcaster, long-time activist and founder of charities Childline and The Silver Line, confirmed the news on Sunday.
Dame Esther added that her cancer had “spread”, but that she was due to undergo tests to assess possible treatments and that she remained “optimistic”.
“In the last few weeks I have discovered that I am suffering from lung cancer which has now spread,” she said in a statement.
“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.”
A trailblazer for female broadcasters, Dame Esther became a household name during her career at the BBC.
From 1973 to 1994, she presented the satirical consumer affairs programme That’s Life! which featured investigations and offered advice.
She also founded the children’s charity Childline, which offers support for children and young people in the UK, in 1986, before setting up a second charity, The Silver Line, for elderly people struggling with loneliness, in 2013.
She was made a DBE in 2015 for services to children and older people.
In 2021, Dame Esther received the lifetime achievement award at the Women of the Year Awards for her philanthropy.