Billy Connolly reacted to Parkinson’s and prostate cancer double diagnosis by blowing a raspberry and remaining 'business-like'
The 71-year-old recalls the day that he discovered he had both cancer and Parkinson's
Tuesday 29 April 2014
Billy Connolly found out that he had both Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer on the same day.
The 71-year-old comedian, who is married to psychologist Pamela Stephenson and has five children, told the Radio Times: “I remember I went through to the bedroom to answer the phone.
"Pamela was behind me – I thought she was going to catch me. And she sort of held me and I went, 'Oh Jesus'.
"But when we went into the living room I went, phrrhrht," he said, blowing a raspberry.
He said he was determined that he would beat the cancer from the minute he was diagnosed.
"When he said 'First of all, you're not going to die,' I was shocked. I said, 'Of course I'm not going to f*****g die.' It never crossed my mind,” he said. “It was all very business-like."
He underwent surgery on his prostate in the US, describing the procedure as "in and out, done". He was cleared of the disease in October last year.
He even manages to see the bright side in having Parkinson’s, incorporating his shaking hand into his stand-up shows. The comedian discovered he had the disease after a chance meeting with a doctor in a hotel lobby in Australia, who said that he was showing signs of the condition.
He has stopped taking medication for the condition as the side-effects were causing him too many problems.
"We were laughing about it because when the strain gets big, this hand starts to shake,” he said, pointing to his left hand. “And I'm like 'look, look, look, look'. And I do it on stage – I show the audience this hand creeps up on me."
He remains indestructibly funny, despite the double diagnosis.
"Aye, it just happened," he said. "I think they're very closely related, deep despair and laughing. And I wasn't in any pain."
His ill-health has led to Connolly’s new documentary, which looks at issues surrounding death. The two-part ITV programme, which airs tomorrow, sees the comedian visit a convention of funeral directors in Texas, a pet cemetery in San Francisco, a drive-thru funeral parlour in Los Angeles, and his favourite cemetery in his hometown of Glasgow.
He will also open up about whether he would like to be buried or cremated once he dies.
"I don't think I want a resting place," he said. "I want to be scattered on the wind."
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