George Alagiah Says Cancer Will 'Probably Get Me In The End' As He Opens Up About Living With Disease

The BBC newsreader also explained how his diagnosis changed his outlook on life.
George Alagiah
George Alagiah
Simone Padovani/Awakening via Getty Images

BBC newsreader George Alagiah has said he believes his cancer will probably “get him in the end” as he discussed living with the disease in a new interview.

The 66-year-old broadcaster was first diagnosed with the illness in 2014 and again in 2017.

Appearing on Craig Oliver’s Desperately Seeking Wisdom podcast, George admitted he does not think he is “going to be able to get rid of this thing”, but spoke of finding contentment with his diagnosis.

“I’ve got the cancer still. It’s growing very slowly,” he said. “My doctor’s very good at every now and again hitting me with a big red bus full of drugs, because the whole point about cancer is it bloody finds a way through and it gets you in the end.

“Probably … it will get me in the end. I’m hoping it’s a long time from now, but I’m very lucky.”

George said he wishes he “never ever had cancer”, but explained it has changed the way he looks at life.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure that I’d give the last seven years back because I have learnt stuff about myself and think about life differently. I’ve become wiser and life’s richer,” he said, noting how he also now has an even better relationship with his wife Fran following his diagnosis.

George is one of the BBC's most loved newsreaders
George is one of the BBC's most loved newsreaders
Jeff Overs/BBC via PA Media

George underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy to treat 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.

Explaining his contentment at how things are, George continued: “I had to work at it... I had to do the pros and cons. And I’m content that if it all had to stop now, that actually it’s been a good run. So I’ve got to contentment. Acceptance. I’m not gonna give up. I’m not giving up.

“I think I always knew that there was a kind of impermanence. You can’t be a foreign correspondent and do the things I’ve done, seen the things I’ve seen, and not know about the impermanence of life, and too often lives are curtailed. Rather than worrying about when it’s gonna end, I can see it for the gift it is.

“I feel that gift keenly, every morning. You know what I do, Craig? I have a few mantras, and one of them every night I say to myself, ‘Georgie boy, are you gonna be here tomorrow morning?’ For hundreds or thousands of days in the last seven years, the answer has been, ‘Yes. Yeah, George, you are gonna be here in the morning’. I think, ‘Fuck me, what a gift’.”

Desperately Seeking Wisdom with Craig Oliver is available on all major podcast providers.


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