Reuters reports that comedian Billy Connolly has endured an operation to handle an early case of prostate cancer, and was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The operation to remove the cancer was successful, but Parkinson’s is an incurable degenerative disease, and Connolly is reported to be receiving appropriate treatment. The actor, 70, will be taking some time in the United States to manage the Parkinson’s, having fully recovered from the cancer.
The Telegraph caught up with Dr. Kieran Breen, the research director at Parkinson’s UK, who said that a Parkinson’s sufferer only loses about three or four years off their lifespan, and that sufferers died more with the disease than of it.
The Parkinson’s had begun to take effect earlier this year, with Connolly forgetting lines and jokes during performances. He said of the experience that it was “f*****g terrifying [to] feel like I’m going out of my mind.” Memory loss is one of the initial effects of the disease, along with tremors while idle, muscular rigidity, and an unsteady balance.
Steve Ford, the chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said of Billy Connolly’s diagnosis: “Put simply [he] is a much loved comedy legend and we are sorry to hear that he is being treated for the early symptoms of Parkinson’s… we salute Billy’s bravery in speaking out about his condition at this difficult time… Many people, with the right medication, continue to live a full and active live with Parkinson’s, but for some, it can be life changing and it is vital that Billy gets the support he needs to live with this complex condition.”
The official press statement from his website said that his diagnosis will in no way affect his work, and he will soon begin shooting a new TV series in New Zealand after January 2014.