BBC man's battle with rare cancer

PUBLISHED: 12:09 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

Rory Morrison

Rory Morrison

A BBC Radio 4 presenter has been living under a death sentence since he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer four years ago. Rory Morrison, aged 43 of Westfields, St Albans, a presenter on The Today Programme and The World at One, has Waldenstrom s Ma

A BBC Radio 4 presenter has been living under a death sentence since he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer four years ago.

Rory Morrison, aged 43 of Westfields, St Albans, a presenter on The Today Programme and The World at One, has Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia; a cancer of the immune system which causes a huge over-production of white blood cells making the blood thicken up.

Although it is incurable and fatal, Rory's cancer is in remission at present and he is optimistic that he can exceed the medics' prediction in September 2004 that he had between five and seven years to live.

He has begun working again part time and has just completed a six-mile walk with his fellow BBC Radio 4 presenters for the Lymphatic Society, which ended at the old Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux in East Sussex - it's where the six iconic pips that sound before the news used to come from.

Rory and his wife Nikki have two children Honor, aged 10, and Reuben, seven. His struggle with cancer began in 2003, the year leading up to his diagnosis. He had been feeling extremely tired but soldiered on blaming it on his tough work schedule. But after his symptoms became chronic, he was tested and diagnosed with the disease.

Chemotherapy began soon afterwards leaving him exhausted and bed bound.

Despite being a positive person, Rory was feeling very down so he began counselling sessions at Grove House Hospice in St Albans which he felt made a huge difference.

After the first round of chemotherapy finished in February 2005, Rory had complications as the excess white blood cells began to attack his nerves causing him a lot of pain.

The effect of the disease on his life was brought home to him when his son showed him a drawing of home life - his mum in the kitchen and his dad in bed. Later he watched a video of a friend teaching his daughter to ride her bike, which he had missed out on.

But since then his life has been on an upward spiral with 2006 and 2007 being very good years. Aan at the beginning of this month after another course of chemotherapy finished, Rory was told the cancer was in remission.

He described how his friends and family had given him huge support although he was surprised by his children's amused reaction when he told them his hair would fall out.

He had also discovered that living with cancer was harder than he imagined it would be and life was still not back to normal - he has little appetite for food and his 70-year-old father comes round to cut the grass for him.

"The disease will never be completely gone," he said, "But I'm hoping I've got quite a good remission and I should get a lot fitter."

The walk to the observatory will be broadcast in a special edition of the Radio 4 Ramblings show tomorrow (Friday).

So far the walk has raised £14,500 in sponsorship. To help the walkers hit their £20,000 target go to http://www.pilgrimagetothepips.org.uk/

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