Jurassic Park legend Sam Neill has been diagnosed with stage three blood cancer and is ‘possibly dying’.
The actor revealed that he is suffering from stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his memoir, which is set for a public release later this month.
Lumps of his neck that he noticed while doing a press tour last year were the first symptom he felt of the disease. He quickly learned that he was suffering from a devastating disease. Things are looking up, though, as he is now in remission.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins in the white blood cells and usually first appears in lymph in the neck. Neill was diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL), which kills around 50 percent of sufferers within five years.
Neill revealed his diagnosis in his new memoir ‘Did I Ever Tell You This’, due to be released later this month. He said the diagnosis inspired him to write the book cataloging his life.
Sam Neill, 75, has revealed that he was diagnosed with stage three blood cancer
Pictured above are the four main stages of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The Jurassic Park star has a rare type of this cancer called angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma
His disease, AITL, is a rare and often fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
It accounts for about one to two percent of America’s 80,000 non-Hogkin lymphoma cases that are diagnosed every year. This means there are less than 2,000 annual cases.
In the UK, only 140 people are diagnosed with it every year.
He was also revealed to have stage three, meaning the lymphoma has now spread to both sides of the diaphragm.
Experts at Cancer Research UK said previously that stage three suggests the cancer is now in lymph nodes in the neck and the spleen, a small organ next to the liver.
It has not progressed to stage four, where the cancer has spread to the liver, triggering damage.
Experts warn that the prognosis for lymphoma patients is generally poor, with only around half of patients surviving more than five years after diagnosis.
In his case, Neill says he has been receiving chemotherapy to fight the cancer. It is now in remission.
Nonetheless, he is expected to need chemotherapy treatment for the rest of his life.
Warning signs of non-Hodgkin lymphoma for Neill included that he had lumpy glands — swollen lymph nodes — on his neck.
Other symptoms include fever, night sweats, skin rash and autoimmune disorders such as anemia caused by the body attacking its own white blood cells.
Normally, a type of white blood cell called T-cells remains in the lymph including the bone marrow, spleen and tonsils.
But in AITL these cells begin to divide uncontrollably, causing the swelling of the nodes and other features of the disease.
Doctors say that it usually is not diagnosed until the later stages.
Reflecting on life, the seasoned actor admitted, ‘I’m not afraid to die. But it would annoy me. Because I’d really like another decade or two, you know?
‘We’ve built all these lovely terraces, we’ve got these olive trees and cypresses, and I want to be around to see it all mature. And I’ve got my lovely little grandchildren. I want to see them get big.
‘But as for the dying? I couldn’t care less.’
He also said that after receiving the diagnosis he decided to write a book.
‘I thought I need to do something, and I thought, ‘Shall I start writing?’ he told the BBC.
‘I didn’t think I had a book in me, I just thought I’d write some stories. And I found it increasingly engrossing.
‘A year later, not only have I written the book – I didn’t have a ghostwriter – but it’s come out in record time,’ he said proudly.
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