George Alagiah Says He's Spent A Lot Of Time 'In Extreme Pain' As He Opens Up About Living With Cancer

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BBC News presenter George Alagiah (Photo: Ken Jack via Getty Images)
BBC News presenter George Alagiah (Photo: Ken Jack via Getty Images)

BBC News presenter George Alagiah (Photo: Ken Jack via Getty Images)

George Alagiah has said he has spent “a lot of the last 18 months in extreme pain” thanks to a “tumour site” at the base of his back.

The BBC newsreader publicly shared his stage four bowel cancer diagnosis in 2014 and is continuing to undergo gruelling treatment.

In a candid new interview with The Sunday Telegraph, George opened up about how he continues his presenting duties while living with cancer.

He detailed a tumour that is “resting very close to the spine” that doctors think has “eroded a bit of a vertebra”, and while they are not yet sure if it is the cancer, he said it causes him major discomfort.

George in the BBC News studio (Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC via PA Media)
George in the BBC News studio (Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC via PA Media)

“I’ve spent a lot of the last 18 months in extreme pain. There have been times when even lying down makes it worse,” he said.

“Sleep deprivation was an issue, but I don’t want people to think I am feeling sorry for myself.”

He added that his back pain is currently not so bad as it has been.

George in the BBC News studio (Photo: Jeff Overs/BBC via PA Media)

Asked how he manages to continue to present BBC News if he is in pain, George said: “It is incredible what adrenalin will do. It is invented by nature to get you through anything.”

Watch: BBC newsreader George Alagiah, who is being treated for cancer, reveals he's had a mild case of coronavirus

He explained enjoys working, which leaves him “absolutely knackered physically”, but “mentally rejuvenated”.

“I’ve been with people who treat me as they always did, who don’t patronise me, and it is a tremendous fillip,” he said.

George said that with his chemotherapy schedule – which sees him have low doses for around three quarters of the year, and higher doses for the rest of the time – means he “quite regularly” wakes up “feeling shit”.

“I can suddenly have an energy collapse. But I’ve got amazing colleagues at the BBC who step in to my place on the rota,” he added.

The former BBC foreign correspondent, who was part of the BBC team that was awarded a Bafta in 2000 for its coverage of the Kosovo conflict, underwent treatment his advanced bowel cancer in 2014.

He returned to presenting duties in 2015 after making progress against the disease, and said he was a “richer person” for it.

His cancer returned in December 2017, and the presenter underwent further treatment before once again returning to work.Last October, he announced a break from his role on BBC News as he dealt with “a further spread” of the disease.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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