Irrfan Khan dies at 53: A timeline of his valiant fight against neuroendocrine tumour

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Apr 29, 2020 02:55 PM IST

Actor Irrfan Khan who had been admitted to the ICU of a Mumbai hospital for a colon infection, died on Wednesday, aged 53. He was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour in 2018. Here’s a timeline of how the actor fought the disease bravely.

Actor Irrfan Khan, who had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, died on Wednesday. He had been admitted because of a colon infection. He was 53.

Irrfan Khan had been battling neuroendocrine tumour since 2018.
Irrfan Khan had been battling neuroendocrine tumour since 2018.

On Tuesday, he had been moved to the ICU. On Tuesday evening, a statement issued on behalf of Irrfan by his spokesperson read: “Yes it is true that Irrfan khan is admitted to ICU at Kokilaben in Mumbai because of a colon infection. We would keep everyone updated. He is under doctor’s observation. His strength and courage have helped him battle and fight so far and we are sure with his tremendous willpower and prayers of all his well wishers, he will recover soon.”

Another update later the same night dismissed rumours that the actor was on ventilator. “It’s really disappointing to know that there are extreme assumptions being made about Irrfan’s health. While we are truly appreciative that people are concerned, it’s disheartening to see some sources spread extreme rumours and creating panic. Irrfan is a strong person and is still fighting the battle. We really request you to not fall for rumours and not partake in these conversations which are fictional. We have always actively clarified and shared updates on his health and we will continue doing so,” said the statement issued by his rep.

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On his death, here’s a look at how he had kept his fans and well wishers in the loop from day one. On March 5, 2018, the world woke up to the news that the talented actor was seriously unwell. In fact, the actor had taken to Twitter and reveal his diagnosis.

He had written: “Sometimes you wake up with a jolt with life shaking you up. The last fifteen days, my life has been a suspense story. Little had I known that my search for rare stories would make me find a rare disease. I have never given up and have always fought for my choices and always will. My family and friends are with me and we are working it out the best way possible. In trying times, please don’t speculate as I will myself share with you my story within a week – ten days, when the further investigations come with a conclusive diagnosis. Till then, wish the best for me.”


However, the nature of his illness hadn’t been confirmed and hence speculation was rift. Then, on March 16, 2018, the actor released another statement to confirm that he had been diagnosed with a rare disease called neuroendocrine tumour. He wrote on Twitter: “Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect: Margaret Mitchell. The unexpected makes us grow, which is what the past few days have been about. Learning that I have been diagnosed with NeuroEndocrine Tumour as of now has now has admittedly been difficult, but the love and strength of those around me and that I found within me has brought me to a place of hope. The journey of this is taking me out of the country, and I request everyone to continue sending their wishes. As for the rumours that were floated NEURO is not always about the brain and googling is the easiest way to do research :-) To those who waited for my words, I hope to be back with more stories to tell.”


After initial treatment, the actor flew to London to avail best possible medical care. Through much of that year and the following year, nothing was heard from the actor other than an occasion interview of his, done during that period, which he shared on Twitter. Some time, in 2019, his health reportedly showed signs of improvement and he began shooting for his first time after diagnosis, Angrezi Medium, a sequel to his hit 2017, Hindi Medium. With a supportive crew and cast, he managed to shoot the film in London and Rajasthan.

In between, after successfully battling the treated disease, the actor returned to India for good. Announcing his return, he wrote on Twitter in April: “Maybe, somewhere in the pursuit of winning, we forget how much it means to be loved. In our vulnerability, we are reminded. As I leave my footprints onto these steps of my life, I want to pause to be grateful for receiving your immense love and support, it soothed me in my process of healing. So I travel back to you, thanking you from the bottom of my heart.”


However, around the film was to release in March this year, he could be available for the promotions of the film, as his health again took a beating. As speculation filled the air, the actor released a recorded message at the time of the film’s trailer release in February saying he had ‘unwanted guests in my body’.


He said in Hindi: “Hello, brothers and sisters. I am with you and not with you. This film, Angrezi Medium, is very special to me. I truly wanted to promote this film as passionately as we made it, but there are some ‘unwanted guests’ in my body and they’re keeping me busy. I’ll keep you informed on that front.”

Also read: After Hina Khan, Rashami Desai grooves to Jacqueline Fernandez’s Genda Phool, gets praise from Shefali Bagga. Watch

“There’s a saying, ‘when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.’ It feels good to hear, but when life really hands you lemons, making lemons is really difficult,” he continued.

“One doesn’t have any other choice but to remain positive. Whether you are able to make lemonade in such situations is entirely up to you. We’ve made this film with the same sort of positivity. I hope this film is able to make you laugh and cry in equal measure.”

“Enjoy the trailer, and be kind to each other, and enjoy the film. And yes, wait for me.” Irrfan signed off.

Only couple of days back, there had been reports that the actor had attended the funeral of his mother Saeda Begum via video conferencing. She had died on Saturday, April 25.

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