Dai Henwood opens up about cancer battle, from 'so much crying' to 'loving tomorrow'

Dai Henwood has revealed to Jaquie Brown on The Project that getting the diagnosis of stage 4 bowel cancer sent him into a massive tailspin. Despite no history of the disease in his family, cancer had always been his biggest fear.

And in 2020, it happened.

"There was just so much crying and holding each other in the middle of the night," he said.

For Henwood, the big fear now is not being here for others: "I have young kids who I love to bits, and I wanna see and help them grow into amazing human beings. I want to be next to my wife until we're old."

Henwood has been on our televisions since 1999 when he won Pulp Comedy's Best New Face.

It's a face New Zealanders have become so familiar with. We've fallen in comedy-love with Henwood during shows like Family Feud, Dancing with the Stars, heaps of comedy specials, and, of course, 7 Days.

The thing he found most frightening, cancer, was inside of him, advancing through his body. It was real now. So, with the support of his family and the help of his oncologist, Henwood began the fight.

That has seen him go through fourteen rounds of chemotherapy, high-dose radiation, three lung surgeries and having parts of his liver and bowel removed.

Things had begun to look better. Until it spread to his lungs and lymph nodes. Then came the conversation with his oncologist which no one wants to have.

"Your cancer is incurable," they said.

The Kiwi comedian handled that news in a very Henwood-like way: he's made a conscious decision not to suffer. Not to see this as unfair.

"The universe doesn't have fair and unfair - it has events. And how you respond to the event defines you, not the event," Henwood said.

"Cancer doesn't define me. How I respond to it defines me."

And Henwood still finds humour in the moments where emotions wash up and slam him like a rogue wave: "I found myself crying to a Goo Goo Doll's song. That's how weird this is. I can't stand the Goo Goo Dolls... how's this even in my headphones?"

Henwood doesn't know how much time he's got, but that's not what he's focusing on. He looks forward to the future.

"My love and my skill is bringing happiness to people and making them laugh. And that's what I want to do," he said.

"I love today," Henwood added with a smile, and you know he means it. "I'm gonna love tomorrow."