Frazer Hines recently revealed that he had been battling bowel cancer for eleven years. The Doctor Who actor said that he kept his illness secret in fear of finding that he would no longer be offered work. But he has been given the all clear and is promoting awareness of the illness through Cancer Research and the Bobby Moore Cancer Foundation.
Only close family were aware of his illness, which also didn't feature in his recently published his revised autobiography Hines Sight.
They said I had a 25 per cent chance of survival. The prognosis was terrifying. My brother Roy died of lung cancer aged 41, my dad of a heart attack at 62. I suddenly thought, The Hines arent going to live very long. It was like I was next in line to go.
When I got out of the hospital bed (after a bowel operation and chemotherapy treatment) I walked to the mirror and saw this grey face staring back. I told myself, "there's someone who's cheated death." After they discharged me I felt like I wanted to grab life by the horns. The first morning I was home, I went for a ride on my motorbike. Liz (Hobbs, Frazer's then wife) was furious and said I would rip my stitches out.
During the period Frazer continued to work in a panto in Grantham. I did the chemo in the morning then, with a catheter in place, I attended rehearsals and went back for chemo in the evening. I did 13 shows a week. I never told anyone in the cast. I never felt sick and was full of energy. My hair actually grew so much that I could put a bow in it by the last show. I had chemo for four months.
A scan later showed he was clear of cancer but doctors warned there was a risk it could return. For the next five years, I still didn't tell anybody and certainly didn't want it to become common knowledge in the showbiz world as I knew I would never work again. I thought if people in TV knew, they'd think "we can't have him, hes got cancer, too big a risk." I also didn't want fans to feel sorry for me and have everyone thinking I was at death's door. I wanted people to treat me like normal no matter what I was going through.
I stayed away from TV but did theatre. On stage you always have an understudy, so if I took a turn for the worse I wouldn't let anyone down. On TV you would and there would be no coming back from that.
I had six-monthly check-ups until this year when a colonoscopy confirmed I was in the clear. It felt I was finally free again. Now I can tell people and help inspire them.
Bowel cancer doesnt have to be a death sentence. You can survive. I did.