WELSH stand-up comedian Rhod Gilbert made a triumphant return to the stage on Friday, May 19, marking his first performance in over a year since undergoing cancer treatment. The 54-year-old comedian, hailing from Carmarthen, had announced in July 2022 that he was receiving treatment at the Velindre Cancer Hospital Centre in Cardiff, a hospital for which he serves as a patron.
Gilbert’s journey took an unexpected turn when persistent neck and throat pain led to the cancellation of his latest stand-up tour, “Book of John,” which he later discovered was caused by cancer. Now, with newfound determination and resilience, he has courageously taken to the stage once again to complete the tour, starting with a show at the Swansea Arena.
Expressing his joy and gratitude ahead of his much-anticipated return, Gilbert shared a heartfelt message on his Facebook page. He stated, “It is wonderful being back doing stand-up again for the first time in a year. I’m feeling good, hopefully, it will be a good one tonight.” The comedian further added, “[It’s] lovely to be here, lovely to be back in Swansea, lovely to be alive, and lovely to be back on tour.” The Swansea gig marked the beginning of the final seven rescheduled dates of the “Book of John” tour.
Swansea Arena, where Gilbert performed, expressed their delight in witnessing the comedian’s return to the stage. A spokesperson for the arena exclaimed, “We were so thrilled to see him back doing what he does so brilliantly. We knew it would be a special one, but there’s nothing quite like witnessing a homegrown Welsh legend take to the stage in front of a sold-out crowd.”
Gilbert had previously opened up about his cancer diagnosis in an interview with the BBC last year. He described experiencing a sore throat and tightness in his neck, which caused him to cancel shows due to difficulty breathing. Despite seeking medical advice, the root cause remained elusive. Gilbert shared, “I had a terribly sore throat, tightness through my neck. I was having to cancel shows because I couldn’t breathe. I was having all sorts of problems, and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it.”
His symptoms worsened during a fundraising trip to Cuba for Velindre, where he noticed abnormal lumps. Gilbert revealed, “In May, I noticed lumps started popping up in places they shouldn’t be. It turns out I’ve got Stage 4 cancer. I also caught Covid on that walk as well. I came home with cancer and Covid from a Velindre fundraising trek… the irony of that! I went as a Velindre patron and came home as a patient.”
Fans of Rhod Gilbert can look forward to his upcoming performance in Cardiff, scheduled for October. The “Book of John” tour, filled with laughter and heartfelt moments, promises to captivate audiences as Gilbert shares his unique perspective and triumphant spirit in the face of adversity.