Neill, 75, says he first “experienced swollen glands during publicity for Jurassic World Dominion in March last year and was soon diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL).”
According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, AITL is a “rare, often but not always, aggressive (fast-growing) form of peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL),” with symptoms like, “high fever, night sweats, skin rash, and autoimmune disorders such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).”
After being diagnosed last year, he spent his time during treatment writing his memoir to fill the void of not working, which is something he enjoys doing.
“I found myself with nothing to do,” Neill told The Guardian. “And I’m used to working. I love working. I love going to work. I love being with people every day and enjoying human company and friendship and all these things. And suddenly I was deprived of that. And I thought, what am I going to do?
“I never had any intention to write a book,” he continued. “But as I went on and kept writing, I realized it was actually sort of giving me a reason to live and I would go to bed thinking, I’ll write about that tomorrow … that will entertain me. And so it was a lifesaver really, because I couldn’t have gone through that with nothing to do, you know?”
Although at the moment, Sam has no cancer in his body, he still worries that it could come back and, frankly, he doesn’t want to die. He’s not scared of death, but he wants to stick around for a little longer.
“I’m not afraid to die, but it would annoy me,” he said. “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?” he added, “I couldn’t care less.”
After the interview came out on Friday, he took to Instagram to assure fans that he’s “alive and well”.
“My news seems to be all over the news at the moment, and it’s sort of, ‘Cancer, cancer, cancer,’ which is slightly tiresome because as you see, I am alive and well,” he said. “I have been in remission for eight months, which feels really good.”
As for acting, he’s excited to get back to work, as he is starting to film for his upcoming project, Apples Never Fall. But he’s upset that his cancer revelation has trumped over the release of his new memoir.
“I just wish the headline wasn’t ‘that thing’ so much,” he continued in the Instagram video, “because the main thing is that I have written this book — it’s called Did I Ever Tell You This? — and it does mention cancer because that’s the sort of context in which I wrote it.”
Still, he admits that the past year “had its dark moments” but he is “just pleased to be alive.”
He was able to spend this past Christmas with family, and it was the greatest therapy for him given what he has gone through after his diagnosis.
“I’ve never felt so well or happy in my life, it was fabulous to be able to taste everything,” he said of this past Christmas. “The wine was glorious and the food was superb. I swam every day down in my dam, and it was the most marvellous time … I had my family and all the grandchildren. It was just fantastic.”
Did I Ever Tell You This? is expected to be released on Tuesday, which not only details his battle with cancer, but also his life and career as a lowkey actor, just the way he likes it.