Ian Ross faces battle with pancreatic cancer

The way Ian Ross sees it, the 73-year-old former king of television news couldn't feel any healthier, and given the circumstances, there is no denying his resilience.

But after going to see his GP for a sore foot and having routine blood tests in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Ross was delivered the sort of news we all dread: he has pancreatic cancer which has spread to his liver, and it's bad.

''But while I agree with the diagnosis, I do not necessarily agree with the prognosis … they told me I have five months left to live,'' an emotional but composed Ross told PS exclusively this week, choosing to make his diagnosis public in the hope he can ''get on with it'' in privacy.

''I have decided that the only way to handle this friggin' nightmare is to remain as positive about it as I possibly can and to get back to leading as 'normal' a life as possible. Right now I feel healthy and well, I have no symptoms … but I don't know how long that will last for.''

The media veteran, known by millions of television viewers as Roscoe, spoke with PS from his Gold Coast home, adding that he is far from alone as he embarks on what is literally a fight for life: ''I have a lot of love and support around me from family and friends.''

Much of that love and support is from his three adult children and eight grand children, his ex-wife, with whom he remains good friends, as well as his partner of 22 years, 

Gray Bolte, who Ross described as a ''very private man'' with whom he has loved and shared his life since they met in their 50s.

''We really are the best of mates and always have been, we have rarely had an argument and we share common goals … we move in the same direction and enjoy a good laugh,'' he said.

About 2500 Australians are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, which according to the Cancer Council is the 12th most common cancer in men and ninth most common cancer in women.

''I'm still training at the gym, going for walks and doing the things I love to do, like meditating, which I have found very helpful. Ostensibly nothing has changed in my life … but we did take an emotional battering when we received the news, but we are dealing with it really well … we being my partner Gray and family,'' Ross said, stressing that he was not in ''denial'' about his illness.

''I know it is very, very difficult to treat and it is terminal … but I refuse to believe that I only have five months left. I have decided not to have treatment as chemotherapy might only give me a few more months, and only then if it was successful. I don't want to spend whatever time I have left lying in a bed going through chemo, I'd rather take an earlier exit if I have to … the key to this is taking it one day at a time and we are looking at alternative therapies.''

Ross admits he and Bolte share a great ''faith in miracles'', but adds somewhat sagely that ''I'm a very practical person and I keep one foot on the ground in almost all situations, but I just believe if you stay strong and stay positive you are giving yourself a much better chance''.

Ross retired from his position as news reader at Channel Seven in 2009, bringing to an end a 50-year career in the media, after being poached from rival Channel Nine.

He was credited with helping make the Seven bulletin the No.1 rating news service during his tenure, after spending years playing second fiddle to the once indomitable Nine.

To this day he remains one of the most respected, popular and successful news readers in Australian television history, though as PS discovered this week, his humility would never allow him to gloat about it.


Ian Ross as he retired from Channel Seven in 2009. Picture: DALLAS KILPONEN

Ian Ross as he retired from Channel Seven in 2009. Picture: DALLAS KILPONEN


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