Rhod Gilbert on cancer diagnosis: “It can come for anybody”

The comedian also said what type of cancer he had for the first time

Rhod Gilbert has made his first TV appearance since he was diagnosed with cancer, in which he spoke about receiving his diagnosis.

The comedian initially confirmed he had cancer back in July and was receiving treatment at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, which he had been fundraising for over the last decade.

Gilbert appeared during Channel 4 broadcast’s of the National Comedy Awards on Friday (February 17) in a segment for charity Stand Up To Cancer. He commented on the irony of him being diagnosed with cancer when he’d spent years raising money for Velindre Cancer Centre: “I’ve led five fundraising treks all over the world, I do stand-up comedy nights to raise money, I hosted quizzes,” he explained.


“[Cancer fundraising has] been a big part of my life for the last 10 years, so imagine my surprise when I was diagnosed with cancer, which pissed me off no end, because I thought I’d have life-long immunity! Apparently not,” he added.

“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.”

Gilbert also confirmed what type of cancer he had for the first time. He is living with stage four head and neck cancer and had previously only disclosed some of his symptoms, such as a sore throat and tightness in his neck, which had led him to cancel shows because he couldn’t breathe.

“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,” he said in the clip, which was pre-recorded from his home.

Comedian Rhod Gilbert
Rhod Gilbert. CREDIT: Tim Whitby

Gilbert had previously said that he’d undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, but did not yet know “if it has worked”.


He was keen to stress, however, at the time that he remained optimistic about his recovery: “I’m feeling happy, positive and optimistic. I’m feeling good and feel like I’m recovering day-by-day.”

Gilbert told The Guardian back in January that he was “hopeful” about his prospects of recovery even if “some days I’m well enough to potter and other days, or whole weeks, I’m in bed.”

The rescheduled dates of Gilbert’s ‘Book Of John’ tour are due to take place this year. “Having them is something to look forward to, really,” he said. “But I’m making things sound very gloomy, and they’re not.”

Looking ahead, the comedian told the newspaper that he’s been thinking about how his next stand-up show could address his cancer experience.

“If I get through this,” he began. “I’ve got to stop saying that. People tell me off. When you’re going through cancer, any sign of doubt or negativity gets nipped in the bud very quickly.

“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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