Hidden in Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s bottom drawer, there’s still a packet of the narcotic painkiller Endone prescribed to her after breast cancer surgery.
‘My having a slightly addictive personality, it’s probably not a great idea for me to take it,’ laughs the evergreen TV star.
‘They have these wonderful drugs to deal with the sort of pain you get after surgery, but you can’t afford to stay on them. They are way too good!’
In recent years, Kerri-Anne has become all too familiar with illness and trauma.
There was her own devastating diagnosis with breast cancer in 2012 and only four years later, adored husband John, 76, suffered a life-threatening spinal cord injury in a freak fall that has left him in a wheelchair.
But like so many other Aussies, the veteran entertainer has also experienced more day-to-day discomforts – headaches brought on by stress and overwork, stiff shoulders and dodgy knees.
‘You have to understand what’s causing the problem, in order to better manage what’s going on,’ says Kerri-Anne, who is on a mission to publicise the findings of the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index, which looks at body pain around the world.
‘It’s important to try to use medicine as little as possible, otherwise you end up with stomach ulcers and all sorts of other issues you don’t want,’ she says.
Celebrating 50 milestone years as the queen of Aussie TV, Kerri-Anne has always had a ‘show must go on’ mindset. Not too many other people would postpone cancer treatment to perform on sequin-spangled Dancing With The Stars!
But in key moments throughout her glittering career – which recently saw her inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame – she has silently endured more tension headaches, stiffness and neck and shoulder pain.
At one stage, before a knee operation several years ago, Kerri-Anne was even reduced to crunching over-the-counter painkillers in order to enjoy a round of golf.
‘There’s no question when you work hard with constant 4am starts, and you do 10, 12, or even 14-hour days, you do get tired and a bit sore,’ admits the former doyenne of daytime TV.
‘Exercise is undoubtedly one of the most important tools when it comes to de-stressing – although I probably came to that a little bit late for my liking!
‘And then there’s massage,’ she sighs. ‘In a perfect world, I would have a massage once a week! It’s great to just stretch everything out and relieve the tension.’
Nowadays, as principal carer for her husband of 32 years, it’s all the more vital for Kerri- Anne to stay fit and pain-free – walking her beloved dog Digger, taking regular yoga classes, playing golf and lifting weights at the gym.
‘There’s no question there’s a lot of pressure, but there’s no alternative,’ the 63-year-old told New Idea in the aftermath of John’s accident.
‘You really do just have to get on with it. Onwards and upwards. It’s exhausting and you do get tired and cranky and want your old life back, but there’s no point complaining about stuff you can’t change.’
For the full story, see this week’s New Idea – Out now.
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