Belfast Telegraph

Sue Perkins: My benign brain tumour caused ‘epic destruction’

The comedian said she would “never understand how I did some of the things that I did”.

Former Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins has told how she “destroyed my life from the inside out” after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The presenter, 47, revealed the tumour two years ago, saying “it’s benign so it’s not in itself a worrying thing”.

But she has now told BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs of the “epic destruction” that it had on her life.

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Sue Perkins on Desert Island Discs (BBC/Amanda Benson)

Perkins, who discovered the condition when she undertook blood tests as part of TV show The Supersizers, said it caused her to “walk out of my life”.

The star, who shot to fame presenting the Great British Bake Off, said that she had been through a “very, very dark time” since the tumour “started to make its presence felt”, and that she had been “losing my mind”.

Discussing how she found out about it while presenting the BBC show, in which she ate unusual food and took medical tests to see what impact the diet had on her, Perkins said: “In this small, very clinical white side-room, this woman said ‘your bloods are very awry and you have a brain tumour’.

“There’s always a delay for me. It’s only really now that I consider the epic destruction this tiny little rice-shaped thing in my pituitary gland has caused.”

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Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins on the red carpet (Ian West/PA)

Perkins said she responded to the diagnosis by saying “‘thank you very much’…..I didn’t want to know…”.

But “I had a benign and extremely symptomatic brain tumour which then started to make its presence felt.”

When her specialist told her that she could not have children, “it was the beginning of a very, very dark time.

“I got diagnosed when I was 38. By the time I was 40, I literally destroyed my life from the inside out,” she told Kirsty Young.

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Sue Perkins (Ian West/PA)

“It was only six months ago when I went for a second opinion and started medication.

“The second endocrinologist looked at my bloods and said ‘But you must have behaved in ways that would confound people who loved you and you must have been in such unimaginable confusion and anxiety and delirium. Did you do something that you regret?’ and I just lost it.

“I always like to think that I’m accountable for everything I do, but I’ll never understand how I did some of the things that I did,” the comedian said.

“I walked out of my life. I ended a relationship.

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Paul Hollywood, Mel Giedroyc, Mary Berry and Sue Perkins (Ian West/PA)

“I would one day be showing a hormone profile that was just zero…and the next day I’d be completely normal…

“And it’s taken this time to look at the wreckage and to piece it together and to say sorry and make amends and be healthy and to be better.

“I didn’t have enough self love for such a long time to take it seriously.”

Perkins, now in a relationship with Naked Attraction presenter Anna Richardson, revealed that her father – who later died – was diagnosed with a non-benign, terminal tumour.

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Anna Richardson in 2012 (Yui Mok/PA)

It made the star realise she had to get her life back on track.

“It has been a very challenging time and I think the best thing I can do to honour him is to get myself sorted to at least make myself right,” she said.

Perkins also told the Radio 4 show that she wanted to “throw up” when she realised she was gay.

“I wasn’t eating and sleeping didn’t know what was wrong and a friend said ‘you’re in love’,” she said.

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Sue Perkins (Ian West/PA)

“I just thought, I want to throw up…It was so far from my frame of reference that when it was presented to me as a truth I had that violent reaction.”

She  also drank too much in her twenties to overcome her shyness.

“I became very, very sick. I got a stomach ulcer. I’m grateful to that stomach ulcer because I think it was too easy to be that drunk and I’m not sure that I would have escaped its clutches,” she said.

:: Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.

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