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Rhod Gilbert’s emotional Channel 4 documentary about his cancer ordeal leaves viewers in ‘floods of tears’ as they praise his ‘raw, honest and vulnerable’ account


Rhod Gilbert‘s moving documentary about his cancer ordeal has left viewers ‘in floods of tears’.

The comedian, 55, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer after finding a lump in April 2022, and was treated at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where he had been a fundraising patron for a decade before his diagnosis.

After ten years of sponsored adventures from Kilimanjaro to Patagonia, raising money for the oncology centre, he decided to use his treatment as an unwelcome opportunity to showcase Velindre’s work. Boasting some of the best results in the world, the NHS facility calls itself the Hospital of Hope.

Months of chemo and radiotherapy almost broke him, and he didn’t disguise it in his Channel 4 documentary Rhod Gilbert: A Pain In The Neck For SU2C.

Viewers praised the comedian as they took to X, formerly Twitter, after watching the emotional programme last night. 

Rhod Gilbert 's moving documentary (pictured) about his cancer ordeal has left viewers 'in floods of tears'

Rhod Gilbert ‘s moving documentary (pictured) about his cancer ordeal has left viewers ‘in floods of tears’

One person wrote: ‘Wow the Rhod Gilbert cancer documentary had me in floods of tears. I’ve had radiotherapy myself, noting compared to what Rhod went through but all the emotions he went through all cancer patients go through. Thank you for sharing your story.’

Another said: ‘Rhod Gilbert, I wanted to reach through the screen and hug you. Such an open and vulnerable account of your journey. So happy that you and your family get that second chance.’

A third added: ‘A Pain In The Neck with Rhod Gilbert was such an emotional watch. Amazing to see his journey and so heartbreaking to see him struggle.’

A fourth wrote: ‘Rhod Gilbert so much respect for your raw honesty, your emotion, your vulnerability, your love for those who supported you, your love for those who matter and for letting us in. You shone bright.’

In one touching scene, a tearful Rhod is seen ringing the bell at the centre after finishing his cancer treatment. He emotionally thanks those who’ve helped him during his ordeal. 

One viewer said of the moment: ”Great to see you ring that bell. Wishing you all the best.’ Another added: ‘We love you Rhod, so glad you got to ring that bell!’

During his treatment, after round-the-clock nausea left him exhausted and undernourished, Rhod admitted the ordeal was harder than anything he could have imagined.

‘So far, it’s been the worst part of my life,’ he said tearfully. ‘I’m not laughing any more. Not sure I ever will again to be honest. I just want this to stop, I want to start to feel a little bit better, even if it’s just a tiny, tiny bit.’ 

Reaction: Viewers praised the comedian as they took to X, formerly Twitter , after watching the emotional programme last night

Reaction: Viewers praised the comedian as they took to X, formerly Twitter , after watching the emotional programme last night

In one touching scene, a tearful Rhod is seen ringing the bell at the centre after finishing his cancer treatment. He emotionally thanks those who've helped him during his ordeal. One viewer said of the moment: ''Great to see you ring that bell. Wishing you all the best.'

In one touching scene, a tearful Rhod is seen ringing the bell at the centre after finishing his cancer treatment. He emotionally thanks those who’ve helped him during his ordeal. One viewer said of the moment: ”Great to see you ring that bell. Wishing you all the best.’

By the end of his treatment last year, when he got the all-clear, he was gasping, ‘I’m a bit of an emotional wreck.’ 

Rhod underwent surgery for metastatic cancer of the head and neck, followed by sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Speaking to the Radio Times recently, the comedian revealed how finding out that his cancer hadn’t spread was ‘the best day of my life’.

He recalled: ‘I was back on the road earlier this year, I got a call to say my latest scan had shown the cancer was in the areas they knew about, but it wasn’t in my lungs or my brain.’

He then had his first clear scan, saying: ‘The best thing was that the tumour had gone, and it was once again an ordinary blood vessel.’ 

Describing the decision to film his cancer journey, Rhod said: ‘I was lying in bed on the Friday, with my treatment due to start the following Monday.

‘I rang the team I knew – there was no broadcaster on board, it was all on spec – and I asked, “How would you fancy joining me on this journey?”

‘It was partly for me. I’d cancelled all my TV work and tours, and I wanted to have something other than “cancer” in my diary.

Rhod was diagnosed with cancer in his neck and throat, on a tonsil and at the base of his tongue, after finding a lump in April 2022

Rhod was diagnosed with cancer in his neck and throat, on a tonsil and at the base of his tongue, after finding a lump in April 2022

‘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 about how ill I was. I thought, “It will give me something to do”.’

Earlier this year, Rhod revealed that he ‘ironically’ first found the tumour in his neck while he was in Cuba on a trek to fundraise for Velindre Cancer Centre charity, where he then became a patient.

WHAT IS HEAD AND NECK CANCER? 

Head and neck cancer is an umbrella term for cancers of the nose, mouth, throat, voice box, thyroid and salivary glands.

It is the eighth most common form of cancer in the UK with over 12,000 cases diagnosed each year. 

There are more than 30 areas within the head and neck where the cancer can develop including the mouth, lips, voice box, throat and saliva glands.

Mouth cancer is the most common type of head and neck cancer, while laryngeal can develop in the tissue of the voice box.

Thyroid cancer, brain tumours, eye cancer and oesophageal cancer are not normally classified as types of head and neck cancers.

Source: NHS

He returned to screens for the first time since his diagnosis in February as he made a moving speech during the National Comedy Awards, which was in aid of Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Speaking in the pre-recorded segment from his home, he revealed he struggled to ‘speak or breathe’ after finding a lump on his neck. 

Rhod said: ‘I couldn’t speak or breathe and I was postponing and cancelling tour shows, I had terrible spasms in my face and a lot of tightness in my muscles. 

‘Couldn’t get to the bottom of 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.’

Rhod admitted that his diagnosis ‘p***ed him off’ as he joked he thought he would have ‘life-long immunity’ after spending 10 years as a patron for a cancer centre.

He said: ‘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. 

‘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.’

He added: ‘The other irony is that I was in Cuba on a trek, fundraising for this cancer centre when the first b****y lump popped up in my neck. I literally left as a patron and came back as a patient.’

Last month, Rhod announced he is planning to return to the stage and is in the midst of planning a 2024 comedy tour, after admitting ‘life’s too short’.

Comeback: Last month, Rhod announced he is planning to return to the stage and is in the midst of planning a 2024 comedy tour, after admitting 'life's too short' (pictured in 2018)

Comeback: Last month, Rhod announced he is planning to return to the stage and is in the midst of planning a 2024 comedy tour, after admitting ‘life’s too short’ (pictured in 2018)

In an interview on BBC Radio Wales, Rhod said he was very grateful to the Velindre Cancer Centre for ‘getting me back on my feet’.

He added: ‘My new attitude is that life’s too short, you’ve got to crack on and do these things.’

He continued: ‘I’ve been scribbling away, I’ve got a few ideas and I’ve been trying some stuff out. I think I’m going to tour again next year, it’s all taking shape at the moment.’

Rhod has also said he will use his cancer diagnosis as stand-up material, because he thinks about his cancer 24/7 but added there is ‘humour in it.’

Speaking to The Guardian, he confessed: ‘It does feel weird. I don’t know how much to talk about the cancer. I haven’t really worked out what to say.

‘I’m really aware of mental health now and I’m checking in with myself every day. I feel fine, weirdly. I’m happy, optimistic and hopeful that next year it’ll all come good.

‘When I get through this, the next show will be in a similar vein. The cancer is on my mind 24/7, but, when I’m well enough to write, I’m jotting down a few things. And there is humour in there, definitely.’



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