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'Game of Thrones' actor feels 'elation' after cancer diagnosis

January 25, 2013|By Nardine Saad
  • Wilko Johnson, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as Ser Ilyn Payne in HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Wilko Johnson, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as Ser Ilyn… (HBO )

"Game of Thrones" actor Wilko Johnson says his pancreatic cancer is giving him a new appreciation for life.

The 65-year-old actor, who plays mute knight and executioner Ser Ilyn Payne on the hit HBO series, announced via his manager on his Facebook page in early January that he'd been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. But now, the diagnosis has given him "an elation of spirit," he told BBC's Radio 4's "Front Row."

"You're walking along and suddenly you're vividly alive. You're looking at the trees and the sky and everything, and it's just, 'Whoa. I am actually a miserable person.' I've spent most of my life moping in depressions and things, but this has all lifted."

FULL COVERAGE: 'Game of Thrones' on Hero Complex

"The doctor said, 'You've got cancer." I was absolutely calm. And then later I began to feel almost euphoric," Johnson said in an interview with the the Times of London.

Johnson, a rhythm and blues guitarist and former member of the Dr. Feelgood band, has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy. Soon after he made the announcement on Jan. 9, he said he would perform four farewell concerts in Britain and France in February and March of this year.

"I'm not hoping for a miracle cure or anything. I just hope it spares me long enough to do these gigs, then I'll be a happy man," he said in the BBC interview.

"The four UK dates represent an opportunity for Wilko to express his sincere thanks to his fans for all the support he has had over his long career," his manager Robert Hoy said in a statement. The shows have since sold out.

About 75% of people diagnosed with the notorious type of cancer die within their first year of diagnosis, MyHealthNewsDaily.com reports.

"Signs and symptoms may not appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced and surgical removal isn't possible," says the Mayo Clinic.

In 2012, 43,920 new cases of pancreatic cancer were reported in the United States, and there were 37,390 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Apple whiz Steve Jobs, actor Patrick Swayze and opera singer Luciano Pavarotti are a few of the high-profile people who have died after being diagnosed with the disease.

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Follow Nardine on Twitter @NardineSaad and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip @LATcelebs.

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