While Sam Neill was promoting "Jurassic World Dominion" in 2022, the actor was facing challenging circumstances behind the scenes.
Neill, 75, recently revealed that he was diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkin lymphoma while promoting the film in March 2022. After undergoing treatment, he is now in remission.
The star broke the news in a new interview with the BBC and explained what was going on in his mind when he first got the diagnosis.
"I thought, 'I'm crook, I'm dying,'" he said.
The actor revealed that he initially spotted some bumpy glands in his neck during a publicity tour for “Jurassic World Dominion.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in the lymph system, which is part of the immune system. When non-Hodgkin lymphoma reaches stage three, the institute says on its website, cancer is found in "groups of lymph nodes both above and below the diaphragm" or "in lymph nodes above the diaphragm and in the spleen."
Looking back on the experience, Neill said he was "pretty phlegmatic" when he received the diagnosis but he did realize he should "take stock of things."
“I thought I need to do something, and I thought, ‘Shall I start writing?’” he said.
Neill decided to write a memoir titled "Did I Ever Tell You This?" and said the process of penning the book gave him "a reason to get through the day" while he had cancer.
“I didn’t think I had a book in me, I just thought I’d write some stories. And I found it increasingly engrossing," he said.
The book, which does address Neill's cancer, will be released in late March, and the actor said he wrote it alone without the help of a ghost writer. He's also quite proud of how quickly he finished the project.
“I suspect my publishers, they’re delightful people, but I think they wanted to get it out in a hurry just in case I kicked the bucket before it was time to release the thing,” he joked.
Now that he's in remission, Neill said he has gained new perspective on life.
“I’m not afraid of dying,” he explained. “What I don’t want to do is to stop living, because I really enjoy living.”
Still, he is excited to shed some of the unpleasant side effects of his cancer treatment: hair loss, for example.
“More than anything I want my beard back. I don’t like the look of my face one bit,” he said.
While reflecting on his cancer journey, Neill said it's been "an adventure, quite a dark adventure, but an adventure nevertheless.
"And the good days are just fantastic and when you get some good news," he said, "it’s absolutely exhilarating."