Jonathan Coleman On His Brave Cancer Battle: "I'm Bloody Lucky"
The Studio 10 star reveals the lessons he's learnt fighting the disease.
You wouldn't know it watching him play up to the cameras on Studio 10, but much-loved Aussie star Jonathan Coleman has been secretly battling prostate cancer for the past year -- keeping it from fans and the public as he continued to entertain us all on TV and radio.
Though the announcement may come as a shock, there is some good news too -- after 12 months of treatment, Jono is on the mend, and is ready to talk about his journey.
After undergoing chemo and radiotherapy at the Kinghorn Centre and the Genesis Centre as part of his St Vincent’s Hospital treatment, the star now determinedly refers to himself as a cancer survivor, and we couldn’t be happier for him and his family.
Here he tells ten daily the seven lessons he has learnt as he fights the disease.
1. Cancer really makes you appreciate being alive
“We all feel we’re bulletproof and think nothing is ever going to happen but then they suddenly go, hey by the way you’ve got prostate cancer and it’s quite aggressive! I kept it quiet on purpose because I didn’t want it to be a label like “Jono Coleman’s got cancer”. I wanted to wait 'til there was good news before I started blabbing. I’ve had the chemo and I’ve had radiotherapy and I’m still doing the hormone injections and I’ve changed my lifestyle. Sadly, though, the hormone injections make you fatter -- I thought when you got cancer you got skinny!! It’s like, great -- I’ve got cancer and I’ve put on ten kilos (laughs)! But I feel so positive and so blessed that I’m coming through the other end of it.”
2. My work has kept me going
“On a Friday I would do Studio 10 in the morning and then in the afternoon I would go up to St Vincent’s and have the chemo for a couple of hours, and I'd back in at Ten on the Monday morning.
“The day I found out I had cancer I was sitting there thinking about who I had to call, and I suddenly realised I had to do my radio show that night! So in the carpark I said to my co-host Jon Vidler, “Before we go up, I just want to let you know I’ve got prostate cancer.” He was like “What the f*** are you doing here?” But I wanted to keep what I was doing -- as normal. What’s the alternative, sitting at home, thinking and having a drink? It was much better doing the radio show, and going on as normal.”
3. Family really is everything
“I’ve always been very appreciative of having a lovely family, having beautiful kids and having my wife, Margot. Our family has a very good sense of humour - when I told them, my son Oscar was saying things like, “who's getting your vinyl collection?”, “how about the family trust’, “who’s getting your house?!”. Emily, my daughter, was in Europe and she was asking me, “OK cool, do I need to come back to Australia, are you going to have tests or is there going to be a funeral?” and I was like “NO, there is NOT going to be a funeral!”
"I talk more to them a lot more now, and I get emotional about it -- but looking at your mortality is an important thing to do, especially when you don’t have your own parents around anymore."
I’ve never been a religious person, but I am very spiritually aware -- like when a song comes on the radio and it’s like “Oh my God it’s mum’s favourite song, she's here!”. Straight after I had the cancer diagnosis I got in the car and 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' came on the radio. I was like ‘Wow, that’s weird – hello mum!'”
4. I got through this with positive thinking
“It’s the thing that got my parents through the second world war! My mum was a 12-year-old living through being bombed every day in London and she would tell me they used to make jokes all the time… one day when there was an air raid going on, she and a friend just went for a bike ride. She had just got so used to it, it was like normal to ride through it! And I just have that attitude too -- if you have something to do, it will get you through.”
5. I am REALLY glad I didn’t lose my hair!
"I was a test case at St Vincent's -- I used this technology that has been around for a couple of years called an Ice Cap (a cap patients wear during chemotherapy which cools the head and narrows the blood vessels beneath the skin of the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that reaches the hair follicle). You feel weird wearing it, like you’ve got a really tight, really cold shower cap on, and when you take it off you have icicles in your hair! But it saved my hair on my head -- I lost bits and pieces of my eyebrows, and -- yes, everything else disappeared if you know what I mean! I was very lucky -- I was one of the first guys to opt for the ice cap and it basically saved my hair."
6. I’m in some very good company
“I’m not the only man out there with prostate cancer -- Alan Jones had it, Graham Bond has been through it, Kirk Pengilly from INXs has been through it, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Stephen Fry has been through it -- I’ve actually known him since Fry and Laurie days, and he sent me a message when he was diagnosed… I’m not alone.”
7. I'm in a REALLY good place now
"I’m bloody lucky. I’m Jono Coleman -- OAM, Studio 10, cancer survivor."
All the best, Jono!
Feature image: Instagram/Jonocolemanofficial
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