Rhod Gilbert’s fatherhood hopes after cancer treatment

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By Catherine Evans

BBC News

Rhod Gilbert has said having cancer has “completely focused” his mind on starting a family.

The comedian was diagnosed with head and neck cancer last year and recently had his first clear scan.

In a Radio Times interview, Gilbert said he was “not sorry” to have been diagnosed with the disease and hoped he could help others.

A documentary following his cancer treatment airs on Channel 4 on Monday evening.

Gilbert told the Radio Times he and and his wife, Sian Harries, were freshly set on having a family.

He made another documentary in 2021 about infertility.

“It’s been a long process for us, and we are still very open to all the many and varied means of being parents. It’s completely focused the mind,” he said.

“I’m not sorry I’ve had cancer. It’s an odd thing to say, and I feel terrible for my wife. But I feel I can help other people, being there for friends, holding other people’s hands.”

‘Life now tastes a whole lot sweeter’

Gilbert said he believed the new documentary could “help a lot of other people”.

“I like having a sense of purpose,” he added.

“I’ve seen for myself how important bringing more to the table is. All I’ve seen is love and care and kindness, and it makes me more hopeful for humanity.

“It’s a cliché, but life now tastes a whole lot sweeter than it did. I don’t feel like life has given me lemons, I feel like it’s given me a lovely trifle.”

Cameras filmed the 55-year-old Carmarthen comedian through 18 months of treatment, to raise awareness of the condition.

He recorded video diaries charting his diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy – and the triumphant moment where he rang the end-of-treatment bell.

Image caption,

Rhod had been raising money for Velindre Cancer Centre for a decade prior to his diagnosis

As a celebrity patron and fundraiser for Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, Gilbert said it was strange to receive treatment from the cancer centre he had supported for 10 years.

“I’m a patient and I’m the patron of that hospital. So, I’m in quite a weird position where I am having chemotherapy in a room with pictures of me on the wall.

“It’s so surreal and weird, you can’t imagine. In the past, my motivation for fundraising was that it was a great hospital, and it was a privilege to be able to raise money for them. And now, obviously, it’s even more significant because I owe them my life now.

“I’m going to keep fundraising for them as long as I can.”

Rhod Gilbert: A Pain in the Neck, airs on Channel 4 at 21:00 GMT on Monday, 30 October.