Writing a will and making tricky end of life plans are tasks many people try to put off, no doubt believing they’ll have years left to tackle the difficult issues.
Studio 10 star Jono Coleman was no different, and has now admitted it was only when he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer last year that he finally realised how important it is to “have a Plan B or C”, should the worst happen.
Thanks to his great sense of humour, the 62-year-old radio and TV star was able to openly joke about dying and even his funeral plans with his kids, but the importance of straightening everything out weighed heavily on him.
Now, speaking exclusively to Starts at 60, Jono has urged others to keep on top of their end of life planning, as they may not have the warning he did.
“Wills are easy to do and making simple plans, even if you’re just in your 30s or 40s, is [important]. It’s amazing how quickly something can happen. What if it’s not even cancer but a loved one dies in a car crash?” He said.
“It’s worthwhile getting things in place. I was as bad as anyone, but when a bump in the road like this comes along, it makes you think ‘s***, it’s time to get my act together’.”
While Jono said he kept his cheerful persona throughout his lengthy chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, he did have moments he worried they may not be successful – and it was those moments that prompted him to act.
“In your deepest, darkest thoughts you have that thought of ‘OK, I should work on option B or C, and get my will up to date. Also because of my kids,” he added.
Jono shares son Oscar and daughter Emily with his wife Margot, and they have both luckily picked up his sense of humour through the years. In fact, it meant they could all joke about him dying easily with each other, lightening the mood and allowing them to express their fears openly.
“The first thing Oscar said was ‘is your will up to date, do you know what you want at the funeral?’ It was funny,” Jono said.
“Then Emily said ‘who’s getting all your vinyl records? Will you set up a foundation for us so we still get pocket money every week?’ I said, ‘guys, thanks for your support!’
“But the thing is we get through all things in a humorous way, and my parents were the same. It helps going through the war or something like that, it’s that British stiff upper lip.”
However, the TV star insisted while he had those moments when he dropped his cheerful positivity and worried things may not turn out the way he hoped, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A year ago I was having chemo at St Vincents Kinghorn Centre now I’m 99 percent better. I will always be positive about licking prostate cancer. And will. Make sure you get your PSA checked regularly and get a digital check also if need be. They found mine early. Makes all the difference. X. So pull ya finger out if you’re over 40 or 50.Cheers jolly Jono. Cancer Survivor. X
“Even when I had those moments lying in bed thinking ‘s***, what if this happens, or this’, I think in some ways that can be positive,” he said. “A lot of men are too scared to get the test, but you think to yourself, the earlier they detect these things, the easier it is to treat them.”
The Aussie TV legend first revealed he had been battling the aggressive cancer since last June in an emotional appearance on his TV show Studio 10. He said he chose to keep it secret so he could continue working – something he credits with keeping him busy and helping him cope with his devastating illness.
He only found out his diagnosis following a routine check-up with his GP, who discovered it had spread to his lymph nodes, spine and bones. Within days he was booked in for rounds of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone injections.
Asked whether he was ever overcome with the news and struggled to see a way out, Jono explained: “When they told me it was cancer, my body went into shock. It was like being in a movie, I expected them to say cut, you just sit there going ‘is he talking to me? Did he just tell me I have cancer?’
“There was five minutes of me getting my head around it, before I took a more practical approach. You turn a bit white but then my default position is to be practical.”