This Morning's Denise Robertson vows to battle pancreatic cancer
The resident agony aunt on This Morning, hosted every Friday by Eamonn Holmes and his wife Ruth Langsford, has been diagnosed with cancer.
Writer and broadcaster Denise Robertson (83) said: "I'm sorry I've not been around for a couple of weeks, but a persistent health issue has turned into something quite a lot bigger.
"I've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It has come as a surprise to me and my family, but we know that many others have suffered and dealt with this condition and I don't plan to give up without a fight.
"My doctor is referring me for chemotherapy and hopefully that will start soon.
"I'd like to thank all the lovely viewers of This Morning who have been concerned about my health recently and I hope I'll be back on the sofa soon."
Robertson joined ITV's This Morning for its first-ever broadcast in 1988.
She also has her own advice website, and has written a column for Candis magazine. Holmes' wife and co-presenter Ruth said: "Some news about one of our own that has all of us at This Morning in a state of shock.
"After almost 30 years of providing comfort to millions of This Morning viewers, agony aunt Denise Robertson is in need of a lot of love herself today." Her co-host Rylan Clark, who is filling in while Eamonn recovers from hip surgery, called on fans to send messages of support as Robertson - who is not known for being tech-savvy - "does know how to read Facebook comments".
He suggested that well-wishers could send messages through the This Morning Facebook page.
Robertson lost her first husband, Alex Robertson, to lung cancer in 1972. In 2006, her stepson, John, also died of cancer, at the age of 44.
Within 20 minutes of the announcement, more than 2,000 messages of support had been posted under the statement on Twitter.
Facebook user Danielle Kerstein said: "You have given hope and prayers to so many people. I'm sure everyone reading this will send heaps of prayers and love back to you.
"You are an angel on this planet. Keep fighting."
Alex Ford, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "We are enormously sad to hear of Denise Robertson's recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, but we must thank her for speaking out about a disease which still has a relatively low profile, despite the fact one person is diagnosed with it every hour.
"It can make a huge difference when someone like Denise gets people talking about the disease, and we hope her openness will encourage people to find out more about the symptoms.
"We wish Denise all the best with her treatment and our specialist nurses are here for her and her family."
He urged anyone affected to call the support line on 0808 801 0707.