Michael Douglas Tells Matt Lauer He's Got Cancer 'Beat' (Video)
By John Mitchell Posted Jan 11th 2011 10:32AM
Academy Award-winning actor Michael Douglas gave his first televised interview since being diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer to Matt Lauer this morning on the 'Today' show and revealed that he is in complete remission, saying, "The odds are, with the tumor gone and what I know about this particular type of cancer, I've got it beat."
The 'Wall Street' star did acknowledge that even though "the tumor is gone," he continues to be monitored closely by doctors. Asked by Lauer how he was feeling, Douglas responded, "I feel good, relieved. ... I have to get checked out on a monthly basis now to maintain. I guess there's not a total euphoria. I'll probably take a couple of months of getting checked out. But it's been a wild six-month ride." Watch Lauer's interview with Douglas after the jump.
Discussing the support he received from friends and family, Douglas told Lauer: "There's a new depth. You know, maybe it has to do because of everything life threatening. So all of a sudden the affection from my family, from my friends, and from my fans hit me at a much deeper level than I would have ever imagined before."
The star says he was always honest about his illness with his young children -- Dillon, 10, and Carys, 7 -- and with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. "I told them about the cancer, you know, right from the beginning because I was going to be in- and out-patient," Douglas said. "But I told them it was hopeful. And I also took them down to a couple of radiation treatments. So they came into the room and they saw all the 'Star Wars' treatment going around."
Of his children and Zeta-Jones, Douglas added: "We've had a big celebration these last couple of days when I found out the tumor's gone."
Douglas also addressed the alarm photos of him looking frail caused late last year, opining that the pictures were a likely catalyst for his 94-year-old father's presence during his recovery. "My father, Kirk, he came back to New York. ... He came back for ten days and came up to the apartment every day to see me because I think that some of these photographs and, you know, who knows if they're touched up," Douglas told Lauer. "I was gaunt, you know? So I think he was even concerned. And, yeah, it was not a lot of fun. It's still not. They're there every day."
He lamented the paparazzi who trailed him during his illness, particularly the impact the photogs had on his children. "I resent the amount of imposition on our children, because it used to be at least they would try to keep them out of that, and they don't at all," Douglas said. "They were having ... there was sort of a macabre enjoyment out of sort of watching me go down there for a while, I felt, by the paparazzi."
Asked how cancer has changed his life, the actor said, "It's put a timeline on my life. I'm 66 now. You know, I'm fortunate. ... It's definitely a third act. And so you're a little more conscious of your time in how you choose to spend it."
"It gave me a really new appreciation of just how valuable, how precious good friends are and family," said the 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' star. "And it's not that I disregarded them before but there's a much deeper feeling. And I've talked to other cancer survivors about this, that -- that happens, that you just really, really appreciate what's important in life."
The actor is now focused squarely on his recovery and getting back to work. Douglas told Lauer that he lost 32 pounds during his cancer treatment and that he is now "eating like a pig" to regain the weight. Since completing chemotherapy and radiation treatment, the actor has already regained 12 lbs. and is working out as much as he can. "They want to keep the cardio down because they want me to put some more weight on. I lost a lot of muscle mass, so I'm going to work on that. I'm going to get my fingers ready for 'Liberace.'"
The actor is referring to director Steven Soderbergh's 'Liberace,' a biopic of the famed entertainer, which he is set to begin shooting in May or June. Before his cancer diagnosis, Douglas completed production on Soderbergh's next project, the action-thriller 'Haywire' (due in April).
Douglas' 'Today' interview is only the first half of his extended conversation with Lauer. The second part of Douglas' sit-down will air during the Jan. 23 edition of 'Dateline NBC.'
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