Comedian Mark Steel, 63, candidly reveals how he found a lump in his neck and assumed it could be treated with ‘vaseline or garlic’ before being diagnosed with throat cancer
Mark Steel has revealed he initially thought a new lump in his neck was so trivial it could be treated with ‘Vaseline or garlic’ – before doctors diagnosed him with throat cancer.
The comedian, 63, discovered the growth while shaving and was given the bad news within six weeks of blood tests, scans and biopsies.
“I went to the doctors expecting nothing to worry about, it’s a harmless lump that can be cured with Vaseline and garlic,” he wrote in The mirror.
The joker recalled being informed of the diagnosis, with the doctor being labeled as having ‘a little less emotion than a mechanic’ who was fixing his clutch.
Mark compared himself to a failing football team after receiving so much bad news, but recalled his son Elliot, 26, shouting: ‘There’s your first win of the season’ when the doctor told him the disease had not spread to his lungs had spread.
Honest and open: Mark Steel, 63, has revealed he initially thought a new lump in his neck was so trivial it could be treated with ‘Vaseline or garlic’ – before doctors diagnosed throat cancer
Poor health: The comedian discovered the growth while shaving and within six weeks of blood tests, scans and biopsies he got the bad news
The TV director is currently forced to feed himself through a tube due to swallowing problems after surgery.
Writing: ‘I feed myself into this tube with a syringe, which can be difficult when someone comes along, because I automatically want to offer him something. Because it’s rude not to offer food to your guests while you’re eating, even if it means performing a medical procedure.”
Mark announced the devastating diagnosis on his blog last month, but assured him it was a cancer “that can be cured.”
In addition to performing stand-up, Mark has written several radio and television programs, as well as a number of books.
He has also appeared regularly on Have I Got News For You, Room 101, Mock the Week, The Graham Norton Show and Question Time.
He was due to perform in Norwich last month as part of his tour which was due to last until Peterborough in April 2024, but all his shows have now been postponed.
In his blog, Mark recalled that during his appointment “everything changed” after the radiologist said he needed a biopsy.
Comedy gold: The funnyman recalled being informed of the diagnosis labeling the doctor as ‘little less emotion than a mechanic’ who was fixing his clutch (pictured at Hammersmith Apollo in 2014)
Sick: The TV director is currently forced to feed himself through a tube due to swallowing problems after surgery
He wrote: ““Biopsy?” I thought, “But this is how cancer starts. It always starts with a biopsy, before adding, “a biopsy makes everything grotesque and cancerous seem real.”
A doctor then gave him the prognosis by telephone that his ‘chances’ were ‘not good’.
Mark then explained that he had received an email informing him that his biopsy had been lost and that he needed to come back again ‘to see what stage of cancer you have’.
He wrote, “Wait a minute,” I said, “nobody said it’s definitely cancer. Are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ She paused. ‘Yes. Didn’t anyone tell you?’
The comedy writer said he did not blame the NHS, but said: ‘The majority of staff are paid horribly and treated with contempt. Their minister stopped and continued. I’m a celebrity, so don’t take your frustrations out on them. Still, it’s fair to politely ask how they lost the biopsy and forgot to tell me I had damn cancer.”
Diagnosis: Mark recalled that during his appointment ‘everything changed’ after the radiologist said he needed a biopsy (photo in 2015)
Grateful: He then praised the NHS, from scientists to doctors, to cleaners and to campaigners, for ensuring he could survive a disease that would once have been fatal (photo 2011)
In his typically comic way, he wrote about the awkwardness of having to tell his son, daughter, agent, friends and partner.
He said: ‘I was in the exciting, somewhat hesitant phase of a new relationship that seemed extremely promising. So one night I had to say, “Maybe I have cancer.”
Mark added: ‘Most cancers are now considered curable. Even those that cannot be cured are treatable, and patients live for many years. My generation was raised to believe that cancer is as final as decapitation, but that is no longer true. If it is cancer, there will be a plan to tackle the cancer.’
He then praised the NHS, from scientists, to doctors, to cleaners and to campaigners, for ensuring he could survive a disease that would once have been fatal.