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Julia Bradbury : Breast Cancer And Me | Interview with Gina Bradbury Fox



Gina, it’s evident from the documentary that you have a wonderfully close friendship with your sister Julia. You also work together. Can you tell us about your relationship?

There’s a ten-year age gap between us, so she’s always been my ‘little sister’. We’ve lived and/or worked together since she was 18 and I was 28. I don’t have a title as such, but I’m Julia’s Exec Assistant and Manager, and I run our website The Outdoor Guide, a free online resource which reflects her outdoor work, and a Foundation to donate the right kit to State Primary Schools to enable them to go outdoors. I’m now 61… We’ve been joined at the hip for that length of time – through everything that has gone on. To most people, it is very unique: it is a very unique friendship, a unique business relationship. It’s perhaps not the norm to be so intense. That isn’t to say we haven’t had fall outs, that we don’t disagree: we are completely different beings! But we complement each other.

She’s the swan going across the water and I’m the legs underneath, that helps make it all happen. I’ve done it forever and I love it. I love being part of her life and she loves being part of mine.

And last year Julia’s diagnosis just knocked us for six. Her children are little.

She’d gone away for the summer, I’d gone away. She came back and I said I’d drive her to her appointment. I sat in the car doing my emails. Just spending time together – that’s what we did. And then suddenly, our lives were shattered. That’s been the hardest – it’s just been really, really tough, for both of us and our family.

Have you learnt anything about your relationship since Julia’s diagnosis?

That we can be vulnerable. We’re not infallible. Despite the closeness and what we have got as a family. This horrendous disease, it’s not discerning at all. You can eat the right foods, take care of yourself… why her? Julia’s passionate about staying healthy and the outdoors. It makes you appreciate the day to day things that are so important. And the other things – they don’t really matter. Whether Julia needed a lift to appointments or someone to watch a movie with at 4am: I made it known that I was there.

Can you offer any words of wisdom to those who have friends or family that are unwell?

Some people say ‘let me know if you need any help’. I think people need to really use their initiative. For example, a very good friend was unwell and I said, ‘I’m going to send you a box. Take it with you in its entirety to hospital’. I learnt this because very sensible people had said to Julia, ‘take a shoebox with everything in it, so it’s by your bed’. The box had things like headphones that minimise noise, a pen with a big topper that she could find easily, etc. Very practical things. So, I would say, send and do things that are very practical. That takes such a strain off the person. Say you will wash their hair – rather than just saying ‘is there anything I can do’?

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