Sky Sports presenter Jacquie Beltrao marked her medical milestone of being five years cancer free with the holiday of a lifetime. "I've always wanted to come here," the 53-year-old former Olympic gymnast tells HELLO! when we join her for an exclusive interview and photoshoot at an idyllic coastal hideaway on the Riviera Maya in Mexico. "I used to put off doing the things I wanted, thinking they were too self-indulgent or could wait," she says. "After overcoming breast cancer, my outlook has changed. I’m seizing the moment, fulfilling all those wishes I put on the back burner, and I feel absolutely great."
From enjoying a sunshine break with her Brazilian-born husband Eduardo, 54, to having a facelift and splashing out on a Louis Vuitton handbag – "It was very extravagant, but I love it" – the mother of Amelia, 21, Tiago, 18, and 17-year-old Jorge is living life to the full. Basking in the luxurious ambience of the Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, Jacquie tells us how her mindset changed when doctors gave her the all clear on the fifth anniversary of her mastectomy.
Jacquie Beltrao celebrated five years cancer free on holiday with husband Eduardo
"That was the day I thought: 'Right, let’s start the year in a joyful way,'" she says. "A lot of people remove pleasures from their lives in the New Year, starting with Dry January. But I decided: 'No. I’m going to add things to it.' I drank lots of cocktails, ate loads of delicious food and jetted off with Eduardo on this rare holiday without the kids. It’s been a gorgeous, romantic experience, like a second honeymoon," she adds. "We work so hard that we hardly get a minute with each other, so this has been a beautiful time for us together as a couple."
It is a complete turnaround since December 2013, when Jacquie discovered a lump in her right breast. "I was doing yoga before bedtime when I found it," she tells us. "It felt hard, like a pearl, and I thought: 'What the hell is that?' It freaked me out." She made an appointment with the doctor the next day and on Christmas Eve was told she had stage 2 breast cancer.
Jacquie is a former Olympic gymnast
It was Hollywood star Angelina Jolie who inspired Jacquie to have a mastectomy: following genetic testing, in 2013 Angelina underwent a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing cancer. "I thought that if it was good for Angelina, it was fine for me, too," Jacquie says. "I had a reconstruction and could even choose my size. I’d always been an A cup, but went up two sizes to a C cup. The result was amazing. As I recovered in hospital I was visited by my colleagues Charlotte Hawkins, Eamonn [Holmes] and Ruth [Langsford] and even made a new friend – Judy Murray.
"While I was watching her son Andy playing tennis on the telly, I was still groggy from the anaesthetic and posted a tweet saying: 'I keep falling asleep during this match.' To which Judy jokingly replied: 'What are you talking about? That’s my son playing.' She and I have been friends ever since."
Read the full interview and see the exclusive photos in this week's issue of HELLO! out now.