Jon Holmes opens up about cancer diagnosis in new BBC Radio 4 podcast

Radio presenter and podcaster Jon Holmes has opened up about his cancer diagnosis to try and demystify the disease and encourage conversation.

Jon Holmes was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2023, which he says came as a bit of a surprise because quite frankly he was far too busy for all of that nonsense. After a very odd, intense, unexpected, ridiculous year, Jon realised that men don’t tend to talk openly about the preposterous indignity of dealing with cancer. So he decided he would, with other men who have been through it.

In a new eight part series for BBC Radio 4, Jon Holmes Says The C-Word, Jon will be joined by comedians Stephen Fry, Mark Steel, Richard Herring, Matt Forde, and Eric Idle, actors Colin McFarlane and Ben Richards, rock star and The Alarm frontman Mike Peters, and journalists Jeremy Langmead, Nick Owen, and Jeremy Bowen as they share their own personal experiences of undergoing cancer treatment.

Jon Holmes says: “If there had been a podcast like this when I was diagnosed – one full of other people’s stories, advice and light moments to illuminate the darkness of the whole sorry process I’d have lapped it up. But there wasn’t, so I spoke to Radio 4, and now there is.”

Jon and his guests will demystify all things cancer in raw, honest, difficult, often absurd and – yes – funny detail, from fingers up the bum to blood tests via biopsies, surgery, catheters, stomas, feeding tubes, penis pumps (no, really) and incontinence pads.

Jon will seek to stop the stigma and embarrassment associated with these issues, to raise awareness and encourage listeners to ‘get checked’ as he aims to remove the fear from the whole diagnosis and treatment process in an accessible and entertaining way. Aiming to humanise what is often a completely de-humanising process paved with unexpected moments, Jon Holmes Says The C-Word maintains that retaining a sense of humour is all important.

Throughout the series, Jon will also be encouraging listeners to get involved and share their own experiences, whether it’s something they have been through themselves or if they are supporting someone with cancer.

Commissioning editor Rhian Roberts says: “Jon has been so generous in both sharing his own cancer story and also creating a new place for more men to open up and tell theirs. It’s down to earth, full of facts and with as much fun as Jon can muster, and that’s quite a lot. We hope it becomes a space where listeners know they’re in good company, no matter how difficult the subject can be.”