George Alagiah focusing on life not death as cancer spreads

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 21: BBC News presenter George Alagiah at the Edinburgh TV Festival on August 21, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)

BBC newsreader George Alagiah has said he has no time to worry about death as his cancer spreads – because he is busy focusing on living.

The 64-year-old BBC News At Six presenter is undergoing further treatment after doctors found cancer had now spread from his bowel to his liver, lymph nodes and lungs. He also tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

Alagiah told BBC Radio 5 Live of his recent diagnosis: "I saw some of the headlines actually about it and thought: 'Oh my God, are they talking about me?' I thought it was time to start ordering the white lilies."

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BBC News presenter / newsreader George Alagiah on the set of BBC World News. 21/04/2006. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 25: British newsreader, journalist and television news presenter George Alagiah attends a photo call during Edinburgh International Book Festival 2019 on August 25, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 21: BBC News presenter George Alagiah at the Edinburgh TV Festival on August 21, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ken Jack/Getty Images)
Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall talks to British journalist and BBC news presenter, George Alagiah (R) who was born in Sri Lanka, during a reception in Clarence House, central London on October 24, 2013. The reception was for members of British Indian and Sri Lankan communities, ahead of the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall's tour of India and Sri Lanka in November. AFP PHOTO / POOL / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
British newsreader, journalist and television news presenter, George Alagiah, arrives to attend the The Asian Awards, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London on October 26, 2010. The awards recognise and reward exemplary achievements across 11 categories, from business to sport, and are open individuals born in, or with direct family origins in, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read Carl Court/AFP via Getty Images)
Presenter and newsreader George Alagiah in the BBC World News studio, 01/07/2008 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
Presenter and newsreader George Alagiah in the BBC World News studio, 01/07/2008 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
- George Alagiah news pressenter on BBC Four News . George Alagiah will present the first primetime nightly news programme with a uniquely global perspective (exact date of image unknown). (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
LONDON - JUNE 8: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Patti Smith, George Alagiah, Richard Wilson and Antony Sher attend a party at the Haymarket Hotel following the gala performance 'Cries from the Heart' in aid of Human Rights Watch at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on June 8, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON - JUNE 8: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) George Alagiah and Marie Colvin attend a party at the Haymarket Hotel following the gala performance 'Cries from the Heart' in aid of Human Rights Watch at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on June 8, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
Newsreader George Alagiah attends a Dragons Den-style event at Glasgow's Lourdes Secondary School in which pupils try to win cash for fair trade schemes. (Photo by Danny Lawson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Natasha Kaplinsky and George Alagiah preparing for the Six O'Clock News in Television Centre (TVC), London, 19/09/2007 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
Natasha Kaplinsky, George Alagiah, Sophie Raworth, taking part in worldwide vigil held for kidnapped Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston to mark his 100th day of captivity.BBC staff gather in the news studio for a vigil to remember kidnapped corespondent Alan Johnston June 20, 2007 in London. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
BBC News presenter / newsreader George Alagiah (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
Presenters and newsreaders Natasha Kaplinsky and George Alagiah on the set of the BBC Six O'Clock News, 27/02/2007. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
BBC News presenter / newsreader George Alagiah on the set of BBC World News. 21/04/2006. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
BBC News Election 2005 battlebus - Sophie Raworth and George Alagiah pose with the BBC battlebus outside the House of Commons, Westminster. The bus will set off around the country during the 2005 election campaign and is equipped as a broadcast studio. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
LONDON - DECEMBER 10: Newsreader George Alagiah poses at his home in London,England on the 10th of December 2004.(Photo by Cambridge Jones/Getty Images)
- Presenters George Alagiah and Sophie Raworth The Six O'Clock News celebrates its 20th Anniversary on 3rd September 2004 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
- Presenters George Alagiah and Sophie Raworth The Six O'Clock News celebrates its 20th Anniversary on 3rd September 2004 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
George Alagiah and Sophie Raworth on the set of the Six O'Clock News. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
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He went on: "I look at him [the doctor] when he gives me news like the news he gave me earlier this year, that it had spread. I look in his eyes and he didn't look frightened so I'm not frightened."

Alagiah said: "I take my cue from my doctors and they don't look scared to me. I've known them now for six years.

"In fact I said to one of them a couple of years ago that he better do the worrying for me because I can't deal with that.

"I'm not going to spend the time I've got worrying. I want to spend the time I've got living and doing the things I want to do and enjoying my family and friends."Presenter and newsreader George Alagiah in the BBC World News studio, 01/07/2008 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

And the newsreader said he has starting enjoying socially-distanced visits from his family as the coronavirus lockdown restrictions have eased.

He said: "We've started over the last three weekends, actually doing the whole marching them through the house and into the garden.

News reader George Alagiah at Buckingham Palace, after collecting his OBE from the Queen.

"What's really, really, really difficult is my granddaughter, because she's 18, 19 months and does she get social distancing? No, she doesn't get social distancing, and it's so hard."

Father-of-two Alagiah was treated for bowel cancer in 2014 and was initially given the all clear in 2015 after 17 rounds of chemotherapy. In 2018 he revealed that he was ill once again, saying at the time that he felt "positive" as he prepared to battle the disease for the second time.

He recently told The Times: "My doctors have never used the word 'chronic' or 'cure' about my cancer.

"They've never used the word 'terminal' either. I've always said to my oncologist, 'Tell me when I need to sort my affairs out', and he's not told me that, but what he did tell me is that the cancer is now in a third organ. It is in my lungs."

The NHS website says that bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, and that most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.

- This article originally appeared on Yahoo.

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