“Jurassic Park’s” Sam Neill Doesn’t Let Cancer Stop Him From Being Positive About Life
Sam Neill has been battling a rare form of cancer since 2022. However, despite his struggles to keep it under control, the actor explained in an interview how he stays optimistic and revealed his hopes for the future.
He first noticed something was wrong during a publicity tour.
After starring as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993) and reprising his role in the last film of the original trilogy, Jurassic Park III (2001), Sam Neill returned to play his beloved character in another movie from the Jurassic World franchise, Jurassic World Dominion (2022). As he was going around the world promoting the latter, he noticed lumpy glands in his neck, which prompted a visit to the hospital.
He ended up being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, specifically, “a ferocious type of aggressive” non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects white blood cells called lymphocytes.
He immediately began treatment, but it didn’t go as planned.
The New Zealand-born actor started chemotherapy, and it quickly began taking its toll on him, as he gradually lost his hair and beard. “There were times in the last year where I had to look at myself in the mirror, and I wasn’t a pretty sight,” he admitted in an in-depth interview about his cancer journey. “I was stripped of any kind of dignity.”
Despite the effort and sacrifice, chemotherapy didn’t work out for him, and after about 4 months he was left in a “fight for life.”
Fortunately, the doctors never gave up.
After chemotherapy failed, Neill’s medical team decided to switch the treatment and try an experimental drug. Although it has tough side effects and requires infusions every 2 weeks, which will last until the end of his life or until it isn’t effective anymore, the drug put the 76-year-old into remission.
Despite all the struggles and the looming possibility that the drug might stop working at any moment, Neill couldn’t be more grateful. He’s “so pleased to be awake” every day, and when the side effects lift after a few days, he appreciates every second. “10 days,” he said, “in which I could not feel more alive or pleased to be breathing and looking at a blue sky.”
Even in his darkest days, he found a way to keep being creative and work.
Neill’s memoir, Did I Ever Tell You This, was inspired by the fact that he didn’t know how long he had to live after he first received his diagnosis. “I thought I should probably write something down for my children, my grandchildren, because I may not be here in a couple of months, and it would be good for them to have a sense of me, you know, and some of the things that I’ve done,” he explained.
“I found myself with nothing to do. 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,” he added.
Now that he’s been cancer-free for over a year, Neill is officially back to acting and doing “very well.” In an Instagram video, Neill gave an update on his health and what he expects from the future. “I’m in remission and I plan to be in remission for many years to come. I will bore you all to death with lots more work,” he spoke to the camera from his home. “It’s all good, it’s all fine.”