Blanche reveals ‘sheer hell’ of cancer after Hawke's death


Blanche d'Alpuget, a writer and widow of former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, has spoken of the "sheer hell" of breast cancer treatment, revealing she had even considered skipping it altogether at first.

Speaking to A Current Affair's Tracy Grimshaw, Ms d'Alpuget, who revealed in April she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, was candid about her grief following Mr Hawke's death in May last year.

"I had eight weeks of chemotherapy which was sheer hell," she said. "Then I had to have four weeks recovery to get over that, the operation. I had the operation and now I'm having immotherapy so that's a bit more poison."

The treatment had left her feeling "very tired" and "dopey", and because of coronavirus she is unable to get public transport or taxis.

Ms d'Alpuget discovered the lump in her breast one day while taking off her nightie, noticing a lump that was "was like a mushroom had come up overnight".

Blanche d‘Alpuget on A Current Affair.
Blanche d‘Alpuget on A Current Affair.

"I had one mammogram and it hurt, I've never had another one … it was quite a surprise and serves me right, really," she said.

Ms d'Alpuget has since been told her stage two breast cancer was hormone sensitive and she questions whether it has anything to do with taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after Mr Hawke's death.

When doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer Ms d'Alpuget was in "shock and disbelief" and even considered not having breast cancer treatment for several days.

Bob Hawke died in May last year.
Bob Hawke died in May last year.

But she ultimately changed her mind after considering the impact it would have on her son, Louis Pratt.

"Well, it was really thinking about my son and how horrendous it would be if it had gone through first lung cancer, then brain cancer, and that's what spooked me - the thought of that," Ms d'Alpuget said.

Along with battling breast cancer, Ms d'Alpuget also had a legal fight on her hands from Mr Hawke's daughter Rosslyn Dillon, who had contested more than $4.2 million from his will.

The pair quietly settled in May, with Ms d'Alpuget telling Grimshaw she wanted to "put it behind me".

"It was very distressing, I found it very distressing … that's resolved and I'm happy with the resolution," she said.

Ms d'Alpuget said she had made a "conscious decision" to get rid of most of Mr Hawke's possessions except for his bed, which she lies "down in it every day" as she thinks it has "got his energy in it".

Mr Hawke and Ms d'Alpuget married in 1995 after an on-off relationship for decades.

The couple were devoted to each other, with Ms d'Alpuget releasing a biography of Mr Hawke following his death.

Originally published as Blanche reveals 'sheer hell' of cancer