How Trisha Goddard overcame drugs battle, cancer, heartbreak and racist abuse to come out stronger than ever

SHE'S best known for helping families battle their personal problems on TV – but Trisha Goddard has lived through her own hell too.

The talk show favourite, 63, has overcome a battle with drugs, a shock cancer diagnosis, three heartbreaking divorces and family tragedy over the years.

However, she's fought through each time and come out stronger than ever and is now set to open up on the most difficult times on Piers Morgan's Life Stories.

Despite admitting she never thought she'd make it to 60, Trisha has stuck by her mantra that "there’s no such word as ‘can’t’. You just keep trying", and she has never looked happier than she does now.

Having embraced a healthy lifestyle and continuing to share a close bond with her grown up daughters, she's gained a whole new outlook on life.

Here we look at how the talk show queen has overcome a difficult few decades to finally find happiness…

'I'd put talcum powder on my face and pretend to be white'

Trisha grew up in London with her mother Agnes Fortune, who came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation, and her stepfather – who she only discovered wasn't her biological dad after her mum's death in 2004.

She tells Piers in a teaser clip for his show that she always knew she was different from her sisters, and started to suspect she wasn't her father's daughter when she was "five or six".

The family lived in east Africa for almost three years when Trisha was a child – a time she credits with helping her realise that "everyone was the same, despite being different nationalities and skin colour".

But despite these happy times, Trisha has admitted she suffered racist abuse while growing up, and used to go to drastic lengths to try and change the way she looked.

She told Lorraine last year: "I remember when I was a little girl, I used to get talcum powder and mix it with water.

"I'd put it on my face and pretend to be white."

After leaving school, Trisha began her career as an air stewardess, which led to her doing some travel writing for magazines.

And after settling in Australia, she finally made her move into broadcasting.

A post shared by Trisha Goddard (@therealtrishagoddard)

First marriage and family heartbreak

Trisha, whose self-named chat show ran from 1998 until 2010 on ITV then Channel 5, was 27 when she met first husband Robert Nestdale on a flight from Bahrain to Sydney in 1985.

He was the leader of Australia’s Young Liberals, the youth movement of the country’s Liberal Party.

A post shared by Trisha Goddard (@therealtrishagoddard)

In the weeks that followed, Robert bombarded Trisha with love letters. Within months he had popped the question.

But Trisha knew all wasn't right early on, as they'd already started sleeping in separate beds at Robert’s Sydney home.

She said their sex life was “diabolical”, adding: “Robert either couldn’t do it or would lose interest. Within three months we were in separate beds.”

The marriage lasted less than a year and she eventually left him.

In 1987 she met British TV producer Mark Grieve, but the following year suffered heartbreak when her younger sister Linda, who had schizophrenia, died from complications from self-inflicted injuries.

"It was a devastating loss. It made me want to speak out for those who suffer from mental illness," she told The Guardian.

Just a year after that, in 1989, Robert passed away following what Trisha had believed was a lymphoma. She later discovered he had been secretly gay and had Aids before he died.

It led Trisha, who had just welcomed her first daughter with Mark, Billie, to fear she could have given her newborn HIV.

Revealing her agonising wait for her test result, she said: “I don’t know how I got through it. I was Robert’s wife and yet I didn’t know he had Aids.

“I remember going for this test and being horrified they might have to take blood from my tiny baby.

“But then the doctor said that wasn’t necessary because, if I had it and was breastfeeding, she would already have it.

“I’ll never forget this awful feeling, that I might have been passing on the disease through my milk. It was your worst nightmare. When I found out I had tested negative, I broke down and wept.”

'I was off my head'

Trisha began smoking weed with her friends when she was younger, but the habit grew much worse following the breakdown of her first marriage – while she was living in Australia.

“I was off my head smoking weed, I didn’t know what on earth was going on around me," she's since admitted. "Days were spent in a drug-induced haze and I went to work in the newsroom having been stoned off my face the night before."

Her sister's tragic death prompted her to stop, but she began battling depression shortly after, and told the Sunday Mirror: “My depression was so bad that the only thing tethering me to the planet was making the next breast feed for my girls."

Following Billie's birth, Trisha admitted she began smoking again, before stopping while pregnant with her second daughter, Madison.

However, after her youngest suffered a life-threatening infection, Trisha said it proved too much and she went on to suffer a mental breakdown.

She was admitted to a mental health ward in Australia in the 1990s following a failed suicide attempt, and vowed never to touch weed again.

Sadly, her battle with drugs didn't end there though, and she allegedly began taking ecstasy while living in Sydney.

Trisha had split up from her second husband Mark, who she'd married in 1993, shortly after Madison's birth, and went on to fall in love with third husband Peter Gianfrancesco in 1996.

She's since credited him with helping to save her life, as he worked for a mental health charity at the time.

'Death isn’t something I dwell on'

Trisha returned to the UK in 1998 and shot to fame with her morning show.

However, amid her incredible success, she was hit with a fresh blow in 2008 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She underwent two operations, six months of chemotherapy and five weeks of rad­iotherapy, before eventually being given the all clear in 2009.

Speaking to RSVP Live last year, she said: “I’m a decade in the clear now but who knows what will happen in the future. I live in the now.

“The best thing you can do is adopt the healthiest possible lifestyle you can, keep active and I guess pray, if you’re into praying.

“Death isn’t something I dwell on. What will be will be.”

'I was just existing day to day'

Trisha's morning TV show was cancelled in 2010 and she eventually moved to America with her husband, in search of future opportunities.

Sure enough, she landed a spot on States TV with her show the following year.

However, despite enjoying a happy marriage for years, cracks started to show between Trisha and third husband Peter.

The star's daughter Billie recalled one harrowing phone call she received from her mum towards the end of their marriage.

In a joint interview with Hello! magazine, Billie revealed her famous mum would drink until she blacked out as a result of her marriage problems.

On one occasion, she called her in a panic from America after she woke up on the stairs of her Connecticut home.

Billie explained: "She'd blacked out and the front door was open. We were so worried about her."

Trisha added: "That year was horrendous – I was just existing day to day.

"I truly believe that if breast cancer hadn't given me a new appreciation for how precious life is, I would have been suicidal."

She eventually split from her husband in 2017, before moving on with a new man – who she's kept out of the public spotlight since.

'I feel womanly, beautiful and sexy'

Trisha has since focused on a healthier lifestyle, and has appeared happier than ever on social media.

Trisha has continued to go from strength to strength over the last few years, and a lot of that is likely down to her mystery man.

"For the first time in a very long time, I feel womanly, beautiful and sexy," she said of her latest romance.

And writing for The Sun in 2019, she revealed while she'd never been too bothered by sex before, her latest relationship has turned that on its head.

"Now I get what sex is all about, 44 years after I lost my virginity in the fumbling, blink-and-it-was-over way," she wrote.

Another major career high came last year when she appeared on Dancing On Ice.

Overall, she's put the troubled times firmly in the past, saying: "I never imagined I’d still be alive now, let alone make it to see 60. I can’t even think about what turning 60 actually means.

"I’m just b****y glad I’m still alive."

A post shared by Trisha Goddard (@therealtrishagoddard)

Trisha gushed that her new clean living lifestyle has left her looking and feeling better than she has in years.

She now runs at least five miles a day, practises resistance-based workouts while she has cut out meat and soya from her diet in order to keep herself in tip top form – and the results are incredible.

Piers Morgan's Life Stories airs tonight, Thursday 24 February, on ITV at 9pm.

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