Russell Watson is a late entry on this year’s I’m a Celebrity… Get me Out of Here. The classical singer, who has performed for the Queen and the Pope, has already had to overcome many challenges in order to make it into the jungle.
The 53 year old was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006 which was operated on, but it once again returned in 2007.
“I actually had two tumours. The first in 2006 was bad enough, but the second one the following year came close to killing me. However, I don’t see myself as a victim, I see myself as a survivor,” Russell told OK!
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When Russell was seemingly recovering at home, things suddenly took a turn for the worse. Russell explained in his own words what happened. “After I had the operation to remove the tumour, I thought I was okay.
“But eight or nine months later I remember getting up one night and vomiting, then the next thing I was being carried downstairs by two paramedics with them saying: ‘Stay with us, Mr Watson’ – you know you’re in trouble when you hear those words.
“The doctors said I was 15-20 minutes away from death. If my assistant hadn’t found me when he did I’d have died. Shortly afterwards, I started radiotherapy. That was really hard as I had no energy at all, I had big chunks of hair missing, my face was swollen and bright red. I remember crying and thinking, come on, Russ – you’ve got through the worst of it now, finish the treatment and get yourself back to where you want to be.”
He managed to stay positive by thinking of his daughters Rebecca, 25, and Hannah, 17, from his first marriage to Helen Watson.
“I thought about my children. How would they manage without a dad? People say to me: ‘You’re so brave,’ but I didn’t have a choice, I had to fight.”
He also continued to work while going through treatment. “Even when I was ill, I enjoyed working as it took my mind off the pain. When I was having radiotherapy, I wrote my autobiography!”
In July 2012 when OK! caught up with Russell he was taking a tablet every day in order to stay alive. Although the tenor now feels fit and well, he told us that he’ll “never get the all-clear.”
“Due to the volatility of the area where the tumour was, the doctors were only able to get rid of so much.”
He continued with more uplifting news. “But I recently had an MRI scan which shows that what is left is shrinking, thanks to the radiotherapy. Not everybody responds to radiotherapy treatment, so I’m very lucky.”
When he was “over the worst” of his nightmare ordeal he met Louise Harris, who went on to become his wife in 2015. Louise, who is 22 years his junior, will support him as he tackles the various Bushtucker Trials from the comfort of their Cheshire mansion.