Friday, 30 December 2011

Rob Buckman

I've just learnt, via the Daily Telegraph website that Doctor Rob Buckman has died.  Perhaps saddest of all is that he died in October and the Telegraph has only just got around to publishing an obituary.  A quick Google search shows that the Telegraph and I are behind the times.  Everyone else seems to have put their obituaries out in October.

Rob Buckman was a hero of mine when I was at school.  He was so much that I wanted to be.  He was successful, appearing on the TV rather frequently.  He was knowledgeable.  And he was funny.  He looked a bit funny, as he would himself admit, but he had wit as well.  He appeared on an ITV show called Don't Ask Me alongside fellow heroes Magnus Pyke, Miriam Stoppard and David Bellamy, running from 1974 to 1978.  He contributed to the Radio 4 satire Weekending and had his own sketch show on ITVcalled The Pink Medicine Show

At the height of his fame, however, his body struck back when he developed dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease that nearly killed him.  After having rebuilt his life and career upon emigrating to Canada, he contracted a spinal chord disease that left him disable.  In the end, he died in his sleep, although not without leaving a smile upon the face by doing so on a flight from London to Toronto.

He was working to the end, making a short series of films with Terry Jones of Python fame, on health the week before he died. 

One medical reason for my undying gratitude to Rob Buckman is his book What You Really Need To Know About Cancer which I bought in early 1999 from a bookshop in Blackheath on the day that I found that my sister in law had secondary cancer in the liver.  I wanted to know more about cancer and that book became, and remains, my go to reference.  It is superb, unflinching and honest.  It does not let the reader, be they a patient or a relative, down. 

So thank you, Rob Buckman.  And good bye.

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