Wednesday 7 December 2016

'I’ve got an embarrassment of cancer, the full English' - Popular critic and writer AA Gill reveals cancer diagnosis

Published 20/11/2016 | 10:26

AA Gill Photo: Getty Images
AA Gill Photo: Getty Images

Celebrated critic and writer AA Gill has opened up for the first time about his cancer diagnosis.

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"In truth, I’ve got an embarrassment of cancer, the full English.

"There is barely a morsel of offal not included. I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty malignancy,” Mr Gill writes in his Sunday Times column.

Mr Gill’s prognosis is uncertain, and his life has been gravely affected by the diagnosis: he cannot ride a bike, drive or fly. Despite all that, he has remained positive and, at 62, feels lucky in life.

“I realise I don’t have a bucket list; I don’t feel I’ve been cheated of anything,” he told Bryan Appleyard in a Sunday Times interview.

“Because of the nature of what happened to me in my early life – my addiction – I know I have been very lucky.”

Mr Gill suffered from alcoholism as a young man, and gave it up at the age of 30.

“I gave up [alcohol] when I was still quite young, so it was like being offered the next life. It was the real Willy Wonka golden ticket – I got a really good deal.”

Mr Gill’s doctors have had some success in shrinking his tumours with chemotherapy, and are now planning to try an experimental drug treatment. The cancer originated in his lungs.

Mr Gill says his main concern is his partner of 23 years, Nicola Formby; who he proposed to recently after receiving his diagnosis.

“Initially it was for quite practical reasons: an awful lot of what I am having to think about is Nicola. I said we should probably get married,” he told the newspaper.

“Nicola started talking about all this stuff and practical things and I said, ‘No no no, you haven’t told me your answer.’ And she said ‘Oh yes, of course.’ I was so unprepared for how fantastically elated I felt.”

Mr Gill has nine-year-old twins with Ms Formby, and two grown-up children with his previous wife Amber Rudd, the current Home Secretary of the UK.

Mr Gill has confronted his diagnosis directly and says that people should be better at dealing with the possibility of death when they talk about cancer.

“They tell you about their secretary’s husband who was given six months and he’s still alive. They hand it to you like a little relic or a prayer,” he said.

“We’re not looking; we’re putting our fingers in our ears and humming tunes… It means we are incredibly bad at looking after old and dying people.”

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