Jurassic Park star Sam Neill, who previously disclosed his diagnosis of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma in March, has been candid about his ongoing battle with the disease. In a recent interview with Australian Story, the 76-year-old actor shared insights into his cancer journey, including the emotional and physical toll it has taken.
Sam Neill revealed that he was diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma in the previous year. This diagnosis came after the actor noticed lumps in his neck while promoting the film Jurassic World: Dominion in 2022. His friend and fellow actor, Bryan Brown, initially suspected that the lumps were related to COVID-19, but a definitive blood test confirmed the cancer.
Brown recalled Neill’s reaction to the diagnosis, saying, “He wasn’t hysterical or anything like that. He dealt with it pretty well just straight on, ‘this is what I’ve got to deal with now. Let’s get on with it.'”
Since the diagnosis, Neill has undergone monthly chemotherapy treatments, which were initially effective. However, when the chemotherapy was no longer effective, his medical team shifted to a new drug that successfully put him in remission. The actor now requires bimonthly infusions of this anti-cancer drug to maintain his remission.
Neill acknowledges the uncertainty of his cancer journey and the potential for relapse, but he remains remarkably composed and resolute. In his interview with Australian Story, he stated, “I know I’ve got it, but I’m not really interested in it. It’s out of my control. If you can’t control it, don’t get into it.”
While the side effects of his cancer treatment are described as “depressing,” and the prospect of retirement from acting “fills [him] with horror,” Neill is pragmatic about the challenges he faces. He openly discussed the prospect of his cancer returning, describing it as “annoying” and “filling [him] with horror” because of his deep love for his work.
One of the ways Sam Neill has chosen to cope with his diagnosis is through writing a memoir titled Did I Ever Tell You This?, which was published in March. He embarked on this project during the periods between treatments, intending to leave his children and grandchildren with a sense of who he is. He shared with Australian Story that “it would be great for them to have some of my stories” since he acknowledges that he “mightn’t be here in a month or two.”
Sam Neill continues to be active in his career, with an upcoming role in the Peacock series Apples Never Fall, where he will star alongside Annette Bening. His determination to keep working and to live life to the fullest is a testament to his resilience.
Dr. Orly Lavee, Neill’s hematologist, emphasized the importance of exploring further treatment options should the current drug stop being effective. While Neill acknowledges the challenging side effects of his treatment, he finds joy in the periods when he feels well. He expressed, “Ten days, in which I could not feel more alive or pleased to be breathing and looking at a blue sky.”
Sam Neill’s candor in sharing his journey with cancer and his determination to continue living life to the fullest serve as an inspiration to those facing similar battles. His resilience, positive outlook, and love for his craft remind us of the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.