Comedian Rhod Gilbert’s cancer latest – from early symptoms to gruelling treatment

webnexttech | Comedian Rhod Gilbert's cancer latest - from early symptoms to gruelling treatment

Comedian Rhod Gilbert spent 10 years raising money for cancer before he was diagnosed with it himself. The 55-year-old Welshman, known for panel shows such as Would I Lie To You, QI and Mock The Week, announced to fans in June 2022 that he was being treated for stage four cancer of the head and neck. He first noticed an issue when he was forced to cancel stand-up shows due to ‘pain and tightness’ in his throat. Then a tumour ‘popped up’ on his neck on the day of a fundraising walk for Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre, of which he’s a patron. Shortly after, Rhod was diagnosed and given a gruelling treatment plan, including surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy as he vowed to fight the illness. Patron to patient Speaking about his ‘surprise’ diagnosis, Rhod told Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer: “I’ve led five fundraising treks all over the world, I do stand-up comedy nights to raise money, I hosted quizzes… it’s been a big part of my life for the last 10 years, so imagine my surprise when I was diagnosed with cancer. Which p***ed me off no end, because I thought I’d have life-long immunity! Apparently not.” Rhod, who was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2008 and has appeared on numerous TV and radio panel shows, added: “Apparently you’re just as likely to get cancer even if you spend your time fundraising for a cancer hospital. Anyway, I did get it, and it turns out it can come for anybody.” Speaking about the irony of finding the lump on his neck while he was trekking in North America before having chemotherapy in a ward with his photograph on the wall, he added: “The other irony is that I was in Cuba on a trek, fundraising for this cancer centre when the first lump popped up in my neck. I left as a patron and came back as a patient.” Cancer diagnosis In January 2023, Rhod bravely admitted he ‘couldn’t stop thinking’ about his diagnosis. He told the Guardian: “Some days I’m well enough to potter and other days, or whole weeks, I’m in bed.” The Mock The Week star had to postpone a string of tour shows at the beginning of the year after discovering he required additional surgery for gallstones and recurring gallbladder infections. At the time he said “the cancer is on my mind 24/7”, adding he had 250 pages of material on his health battle for when he is well enough for more stand-up shows. “It does feel weird. I don’t know how much to talk about the cancer. I haven’t really worked out what to say,” he said. “I’m more than happy to talk about it but I haven’t had time to process it at all.” Gruelling treatment Days before his treatment was set to begin, Rhod approached a documentary team to film his experience. “I’d cancelled all my TV work and tours, and I wanted to have something other than ‘cancer’ in my diary,” he told Radio Times. “I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to go on stage or TV, but I thought I might be well enough to lie in bed and talk to a documentary team.” Rhod Gilbert: A Pain in the Neck charts what happened after the comedian was diagnosed with head and neck cancer – from diagnosis, through initial surgery, to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, up to the triumphant moment when Rhod rang the end-of-treatment bell. At home, he was cared for by his wife, comedian and writer Sian Harries, although viewers of his documentary will only see her in the closing scenes. “She didn’t want to be in the doc, it was too much to look after me and to also be on camera. The caring for me was enough, which I appreciate,” Rhod told the Radio Times. Latest update In October last year, Rhod announced he had received his first clear cancer scan after undergoing treatment, telling the Radio Times it was “the best day of my life”. In his latest update, the Welshman said: “My latest scan had shown the cancer was in the areas they knew about, but it wasn’t in my lungs or my brain.” On receiving the results, he declared: “The best thing was that the tumour had gone, and it was once again an ordinary blood vessel.”

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