Sunday, 13 November 2011

Russell Watson

I was originally going to make the title "Russell Watson: What You Got, Son?" but obviously, that would be stupid. So I decided not to mention it.


Anyway, today's post is (surprisingly) about international singing sensation and all-round famous guy Russell Watson. Ever heard of him? NOR HAD I.

But last year he popped up on an episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, which aired on the evening of the 2nd December. I had an important exam the next day, so obviously I was watching. Mr Watson mentioned that he had had a brain tumour. I, as yet undiagnosed,* thought nothing more of it, not least because the notorious buffoon Tim Westwood was hosting the show and I was quite busy despising him.

About a week later, I got the call from the hospital announcing that I had a pituitary adenoma. Russell Watson was far from my mind. But then one day, as I was waiting to collect a takeaway in my local Chinese, I began paging through their ancient and tattered copies of the Daily Mail** and came across a month-old article about the same Mr Watson and his second round of brain surgery for a "benign brain tumour".

So obviously I had to look it up. After a bit of searching, my suspicions were confirmed: Russell Watson's pituitary gland also enjoys cultivating adenomas in its spare time. I can't really say why knowing this made me feel better, but I guess it's just vaguely reassuring to know that there are other people out there. The poor guy had a particularly nasty case of the pituitary tumour as well, he's had two surgeries and radiotherapy, and the first surgery apparently had a knock-on effect to his pituitary function, something which so far I've been lucky enough to avoid.

 However, I would like to take this opportunity to glower at the British press for their woeful lack of precision when reporting on brain tumours. It seems that any distinction beyond that of "benign" and "cancerous" is completely beyond them. For anyone who knows their oligodendroglioma from their meningioma, and particularly for anyone trying to identify famous fellow tumourheads, it makes life rather challenging. Are the details of a diagnosis too much to ask for?

Also, while I don't mean to sound like a stalker who's read every article on the subject, I have to say that I particularly empathised with the last lines from with Russell Watson in this article: "Specialists repeatedly told him that he was only suffering from stress, to which he replied: 'The only thing that's stressing me is this pain in my head.'"

Just like all the years of me visiting various doctors complaining that my hair was falling out. And my heart was doing funny things. And I felt tired all the time.***

UPDATE: You may also be interested in further posts I've made about famous people with pituitary adenomas, which you can find here and here, and there's also this post specifically looking at famous people with Cushing's Disease and another post looking at the strange shortage of famous women with acromegaly when compared to their male counterparts.
*Though admittedly in the realm of "we're pretty sure it's a pituitary adenoma. Because it's the only idea we have left".

** Oh god. I know. I'm so sorry. I'll never do it again.

***Any doctor treating me in future may be interested to know that if any symptom I may display is ever put down to "stress" again, I will not be held responsible for my actions. Of course, being accused of suffering from "stress" comes with the unfortunate Catch-22 that anyone repeatedly insisting that they're not bloody stressed looks exactly like a stressed-out mentalist. Le sigh.


  1. I have a non-functioning pituitary adenoma that is proving tiresomely persistent - I have read numerous articles about these unwelcome head guests and this one is the first to make me laugh - thank you! You write very well.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I'm glad you liked the post, and I love the phrase "unwelcome head guests" xD and I very much hope your adenoma begins to prove more tractable!

  2. Thank you! About to have op number two and course of radiotherapy which will hopefully do the business. Totally agree with you about the blood tests post-op too btw - it's like being a bleedin' (literally) pin cushion! I really hope that your treatment goes very well and thank you again for writing the blog - it really is good.