She's forged a successful 50- year career in an industry that's notorious for having more downs than ups, and has managed to build a happy marriage − one that's approaching its 35th anniversary − in the process. But although veteran TV presenter and Logies Hall of Fame Inductee Kerri-Anne Kennerley − or 'KAK' to her friends − makes it look easy, behind the glitz and glam, her incredible story is one of strength, resilience, courage and hope.
Though she's dominated our screens for years presenting Good Morning Australia, Midday with Kerri-Anne and Kerri-Anne, the bubbly Queenslander's dazzling smile has belied multiple personal tragedies. A miscarriage at 36 robbed her of a chance at motherhood, and in 2012, she battled cancer after discovering a lump in her breast during a costume fitting while competing on Seven's Dancing With the Stars.
She underwent surgery to remove two lumps and four lymph nodes, and had weeks of radiation therapy before finally being given the all-clear, but this brush with mortality prompted the small-screen stunner to realise that she wasn't "bulletproof."
"It does put things into perspective," the 64-year-old tells Good Health. "Afterwards, you don't really get too caught up with small stuff that used to bother or worry you − annoying things or annoying people. It also makes you realise how important your health is and subsequently the importance of exercise and diet. There's so much new evidence that shows how beneficial exercise is to your brain and in helping prevent disease."
"I want to keep up with the ageing process − that's an absolute given for me," she says. "As you age, your skin quality decreases − lines and wrinkles inevitably come as collagen breaks down."
"You can help to compensate by eating well. Being a Queensland girl, I love fruit and vegetables, and I grew up in an era when the produce really was fresh and full of antioxidants. I eat pretty much everything, but other than chips at a really fabulous restaurant, which I'll treat myself to very occasionally, I never eat fried food. And then taking supplements is essential − it's the best thing you can do."
Finding her Zen in her ‘busy’ life
"Music can absolutely change my mood," she says. "I have my own playlists filled with hundreds of songs that I just love. I use music to help me exercise and to take me out of a negative headspace."This ability to adapt and survive is obviously something she shares with her husband, John, an English mathematician she married after a whirlwind romance in 1984. As a result of a freak accident two years ago, he's now a quadriplegic, but counts his blessings that he's still alive. Suffering similar injuries to those of the late Superman star Christopher Reeve, John was placed into an induced coma while emergency doctors operated on his neck, and has since undergone intensive rehabilitation – all with his beloved wife by his side.
Defying medics with "minor miracles", as Kerri- Anne describes them, he fought his way out of intensive care before eventually returning to their Woollahra home in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, where they're both still adjusting to their new life.
"'Busy' is a simple word for it," says Kerri-Anne. "But we're now in a very comfortable routine. He still doesn't have the use of his hands, so he can't turn a page or feed himself, but he has all his faculties and is very sharp, as he always was. Luckily, he can now eat, because he was being fed through the nose for a few months, and he needs 24/7 care, but we're at home and we have a pattern. So we're just taking things day by day."
For more of Kerri-Anne's story, pick up an issue of Good Health magazine, on sale now.