George Alagiah, 63, was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014. The BBC News at Six host subsequently underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy before returning to his role at the BBC the following year. However, in January 2018, he was told the cancer had returned. In the first of a series of podcasts for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Bowel Cancer UK, George spoke out about how “tough” it was to discover the cancer was back. He also said he has a mantra, which he repeats to himself each evening.
“I ask myself if I’ll be here tomorrow,” he said. “And for the past few years I’ve answered, ‘Yes.’
“I found it harder the second time round,” George explained. “I got seduced into the idea that I was the guy who made it.
“So to be told it had come back was quite tough.
“There were days I’d call the sofa days when I just sat on the sofa,” he continued.
“It’s easier for us as patients then it is for those around us.
“I’ve limited my life right down to 24 hours ahead,” George said. “’Can I do what I need tomorrow? Yes, I can.’”
However, he said the experience is different for his family.
“Whereas for my wife and our sons, they are looking ahead,” he added. “They’ve got their own lives to lead.
“But they also feel that they have to care for me and be sensitive to my needs as well.”
After stepping away from his role on the BBC in December 2017, George returned to screens earlier this year.
His co-star Sophie Raworth, 50, announced the news on Twitter before his first instalment of the BBC News at Six since his time away.
Sharing a picture of him in the newsroom, sporting a new beard, she told her 84,000 followers: “Back with a beard… 1st time on air since December 2017. Join @BBCAlagiah on @BBCOne for tonight’s #BBCNewsSix.”
After his return was also confirmed at the end of a news bulletin, George tweeted Sophie in view of his own 43,000 Twitter followers: “@sophieraworth there goes my hopes of slipping back into the studio unnoticed!
“Thanks to all for good wishes,” he told fans. “We’ve got the cancer in holding pattern so it’s back to work with colleagues I respect and the viewers who make it worthwhile.”
He later said: “So good to be back in the newsroom.
“Overwhelmed by so much support from so many. Thanks to all.
“I’m still a cancer patient so will take a while to find a work schedule that fits with ongoing treatment,” he added. “I’m determined to get behind that studio desk as often as I can.”
In Conversation With George Alagiah: A Bowel Cancer UK podcast, with Matthew Wiltshire, can be found at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/podcasts.