ABC Radio Sydney’s James Valentine to take three months off Afternoons due to cancer diagnosis

James Valentine

Tim Webster will replace Valentine in Afternoons during his absence.

ABC Radio Sydney Afternoon presenter James Valentine has announced on air that he will be taking three months off to recover from oesophagus surgery. 

Valentine announced to listeners on Thursday, 21 March that he had a four centimetre cancer tumour where his oesophagus meets his stomach. The surgery will remove his entire oesophagus and then stretch his stomach up and attach it to his throat.

Valentine said his cancer diagnosis dates back to December. He was at a friend’s party and upon eating massaman curry, he started to choke badly. 

He then went to an endoscopy clinic to get a gastroscopy, and upon completing it, the doctor told him he had a four centimetre tumour.

“The next morning I get up at 3:45 am. As I’m driving to work, it’s like I start to remember a dream. It doesn’t quite make sense. After the radio shift, I ring my wife Joanne and say, “This might sound like a stupid question, but I have cancer, right?

“Immediately it was meetings with oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons and, in early January, I started five weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. (For reasons that must be obvious, I don’t like to use the more common term — radiotherapy.)

“And this is where my cancer and treatment differ from many others.

“I got chemo and radiation straight off, but only a mild dose designed to shrink the tumour and clean out the body before surgery. I got tired from the radiation, the chemo made me feel like my whole body had been sluiced through with liquid aluminium foil but I could go to work, do the radio, and I even did a gig or two playing saxophone.

“Much to the annoyance of my bald brothers, my hair didn’t fall out.

“So, I’ll be gone for a while. Probably two or three months. I’m going to make sure I’m fully recovered and my stomach is going to stay attached to my neck before I attempt broadcasting again. Wouldn’t want it to come loose mid-show.

“Cancer is confronting and of course, I’m equal parts hopeful and terrified. Lord knows what I’ll be like a few months from now. I think I’ll be fine. That’s my ending. But right now, I’m still at the beginning.”

Tim Webster will replace James Valentine in Afternoons during his absence. 

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