“Jurassic Park” star Sam Neill revealed that while he was on tour promoting “Jurassic World Dominion” last year, he was also battling stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The 75-year-old told the BBC in an interview Friday that he first learned about his diagnosis in March 2022 after finding lumpy glands in his neck.
Neill initially believed his prospects were grim: “I’m crook, I’m dying,” he told the BBC were his first thoughts.
Fortunately, Neill said he is in remission now, though he still faces “dark days” and difficult challenges, like losing his hair during his first round of chemotherapy — a treatment he still receives, though his tumors have gone away.
“More than anything I want my beard back,” Neill told the BBC. “I don’t like the look of my face one bit.”
Non-hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that affects the lymphatic system, and occurs when white blood cells grow abnormally, and grow tumors throughout the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is most common in people over 60-years-old, or in people with suppressed immune systems.
While cancer has been a difficult obstacle for Neill, he said he prefers to focus on the positives and on living life to the fullest.
“I’m not afraid of dying. What I don’t want to do is to stop living, because I really enjoy living,” Neill told the BBC. “I’ve regarded it as an adventure, quite a dark adventure, but an adventure nevertheless. And the good days are just fantastic and when you get some good news it’s absolutely exhilarating.”
Neill told the BBC his “ferocious type of aggressive” cancer inspired him to start writing about his life — a distraction that transformed into a passion for the “Peaky Blinders” actor, and the stories he was writing quickly became a full-blown memoir about his illness and his 50-year career: “Did I Ever Tell You This?”
“I didn’t think I had a book in me, I just thought I’d write some stories. And I found it increasingly engrossing,” Neill told the BBC. “A year later, not only have I written the book – I didn’t have a ghost writer – but it’s come out in record time.”
He added that his book isn’t about cancer, but rather about his life experiences, like meeting Barbara Streisand.
“The last thing I want is for people to obsess about the cancer thing because I’m not really interested in cancer,” Neill said. “I’m not really interested in anything other than living.”