Renowned for his roles in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, Sam Neill has recently been making headlines for his health challenges. Earlier this year, Neill disclosed that he had been diagnosed with stage 3 blood cancer in March 2022. At the time, he described the illness as “ferocious.” In a recent interview, he openly acknowledged that while he cannot predict how much time remains, he harbors no fear of death.
Specifically, the veteran actor expressed that he is “not remotely afraid” of death and, somewhat humorously, finds the notion of dying “annoying” since there are still things he aspires to accomplish. Speaking on the television program “Australian Story,” Neill provided a detailed account of his diagnosis of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, emphasizing that he was in “a fight for my life.” This arduous battle led him through several months of “brutal” chemotherapy, an experience he described as stripping him of “any kind of dignity.”
During the show, Neill’s doctor, Orly Lavee, sheds light on the situation. She explained that the cancer displayed resistance to the initial round of chemotherapy, becoming even more aggressive. Typically, many patients opt to discontinue treatment under such circumstances. Nevertheless, Neill displayed a strong determination to continue the fight.
Dr. Lavee then prescribed a “novel” drug as the next step in his treatment, which surprisingly proved effective. Reflecting on this, Neill shared, “That was a year ago now, and I have been in remission ever since then, and I’m immensely grateful for that. It’s not something I can finish; I will be on this for the rest of my life. Every two weeks, I go in and get beaten up again. It’s like going ten rounds with a boxer, but it’s keeping me alive. And being alive is infinitely preferable to the alternative.”
Thanks to this successful treatment, Neill was able to embark on his “first sort of substantial work for over a year.” He expressed his aversion to retirement, stating, “The idea of retirement fills me with horror, actually. To not be able to do the things that you love would be heartbreaking. But I’ve also got to be realistic in that one doctor said to me, ‘This stuff will stop working one day, too.’ So I’m prepared for that. I’m ready for it. And I think I’ve done some good things… not all of them have been good. We all have regrets. But I think I can live by myself, and I can die by myself, OK.”
Interestingly, Neill’s son, Tim, revealed that the actor seldom discusses his illness, acknowledging that he himself only learned about the type of cancer his father had through news articles. Neill affirmed this, saying, “It’s not interesting to me. I’m not interested in cancer. I’ve got other things on my mind, and it’s not cancer… I know I’ve got it, but I’m not really interested in it.”
However, what Neill did find meaningful was the idea of leaving behind stories for his loved ones. Amidst the challenging treatment following his initial diagnosis, he decided to document recollections he wished to pass on to his children and grandchildren, eventually shaping these writings into his memoir, “Did I Ever Tell You This?”—released in March.
He explained, “I started to think I better write some of this down because I’m not sure how long I have to live. I was running against the clock… I thought it would be great for them to have some of my stories. I mightn’t be here in a month or two. We’ll leave something for them.”