Russell Watson – Return Of The Voice: Tonight ITV

by Lisa McGarry

“If I think about it now it seems like it happened to another person. I’ve had two tumours, one them literally nearly killed me. I was minutes away from not being here and I’d almost given up. To think back to that point in my life, it’s a very strange feeling because it almost seems like it was a bad dream.” Russell Watson

Eighteen months ago Sir Trevor MacDonald exclusively interviewed Russell Watson, just weeks after he completed gruelling radiotherapy treatment for a pituitary tumour. Now Sir Trevor and Russell meet again to discuss how he has been coping since his operation and radiotherapy. Visibly stronger, with a new record deal, Russell is riding high. But the treatment for his tumour did not end with the radiotherapy. Intensive medication with constant adjustments, regular appointments and the nagging thoughts that the tumour may one day return are lifelong changes that Russell must learn to live with in the aftermath of the tumour which almost took his life.

Determined not to let his illness get the better of him, Russell has been focusing on his fitness. He discusses the role that exercise has played in his recovery and how his dual loves of tennis and singing have helped to propel him forward through the darkest of times.

The programme follows Russell as he looks to the future and visits Sony Records to sign a new record deal. Russell has recently completed a tour and a vocal practice session at his Cheshire home reveals how his voice has improved dramatically since the removal of the growth.

However, the day to day reality of having to take lifelong medication has been hard for Russell to come to terms with. He attends a regular appointment with his consultant to discuss how he is coping with the constant adjustments to his medication and the highs and lows he suffers.

The programme interviews Russell’s specialist Dr Tara Kearney on his progress. She reveals how Russell has made great strides in his recovery with his vision returning to normal and his stamina and fitness improving all the time. But she also reveals that Russell’s pituitary failure means he no longer produces the hormone cortisol. The consequences of this can be fatal and Russell must take a medicated replacement three times a day, to stop the risk of a heart attack in the face of stressful situations.

The programme also meets Pat McBride, who has suffered from pituitary disease herself. Pat speaks openly about her own experiences of living with daily medication and the struggle for diagnosis. She now works for The Pituitary Foundation, raising awareness of the life threatening condition.

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