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Comedian Rhod Gilbert ‘coming back’ to his former self after cancer treatment

Comedian Rhod Gilbert has admitted he was frustrated about receiving his cancer diagnosis after fundraising for the condition for years but confirmed he is “coming back” to his former self after treatment.

The 54-year-old Welshman announced in July that he had stage four cancer and was being treated at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where he had been a fundraising patron before the diagnosis.

Appearing in a video message for Channel 4’s The National Comedy Awards, which was in aid of Stand Up To Cancer, Gilbert revealed his cancer is of the head and neck but that he has a big recovery goal which he is working towards.

Graham Norton Show – London
Rhod Gilbert is a patron of the Velindre Cancer Centre where he has been treated (Ian West/PA)

Speaking in the pre-recorded clip, he explained how the Velindre Cancer Centre has been a “big part” of his life since he joined them as a patron 10 years ago.

During his time in the role, he held comedy nights, hosted quizzes and took part in five fundraising treks across the world to help raise money for the centre.

He jokingly said: “So imagine my surprise when I was diagnosed with cancer which pissed me off no end because I thought I’d have lifelong immunity. Apparently not.

“Apparently, you’re just as likely to get cancer even if you spend your time fundraising for a cancer hospital. I did get it and it turns out it can come for anybody at any time.”

He revealed he was in Cuba on a fundraising trek for the cancer centre when the first lump appeared in his neck but that he had been “struggling” for a while before that with different pains.

“I had a sore throat and I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t breathe and I was postponing and cancelling tour shows and I had terrible spasms in my face and a lot of tightness in the muscles,” he explained.

“(We) couldn’t get to the bottom of it. It turns out after a biopsy of this lump in my neck that I have something called head and neck cancer, cancer of the head sounded pretty serious.

“So before I knew it, I was having surgery. I was in daily sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.”

Gilbert added that it was “a bit odd” receiving treatment at the Velindre Cancer Centre and University Hospital of Wales (UHW), Cardiff as there were pictures of him on the walls from his days as a patron encouraging other patients.

Despite this, the comedian described his treatment as “faultless” and said he is “coming back” to his former self as his facial hair is regrowing, his voice is back to normal and he is regaining weight.

He revealed his recovery goal is to lead the cancer centre’s next fundraising trek to Morocco to the highest point in North Africa in the Atlas Mountains.

“That’s my goal. I’m a little way off that at the moment, but I am feeling optimistic. And weirdly feeling really happy and really positive,” he said.

“And some would say that makes a change I’m sure. I’m sure some people would say there’s a first time for everything. I’m not exactly known for it.”

Gilbert recently postponed a string of January tour shows to the summer after discovering he required additional surgery for gallstones and recurring gallbladder infections.

He has been a regular guest on shows such as Would I Lie To You?, QI and Mock The Week over the years, and also hosted Never Mind The Buzzcocks from 2014-15.