Leishman's family gathers around him

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Ill broadcaster enjoys hearing messages of support from public

Phillip, Lily, Michelle, India and Harry Leishman. Photo / Supplied
Phillip, Lily, Michelle, India and Harry Leishman. Photo / Supplied

Gravely ill broadcaster Phillip Leishman has reportedly slipped into a coma.

He has been surrounded by family this weekend and was managing to smile as good wishes were read to him yesterday.

His brother Mark Leishman said Phil's wife Michelle and their three children were managing "incredibly".

Harry, 20, India, 17, and Lily, 15, have spent a year dealing with his illness - today is 12 months since he was diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer, at the age of 60.

Mark said it had been very difficult for the family. A tumour was removed in March and they had hoped for a recovery.

"For the best part of last year it was all good but later in the year, unfortunately, it came back. It was quite a virulent, aggressive cancer.

Yesterday Mark said: "We are getting loads of emails and cards that we read to Phil and he always responds. He always smiles if he recognises the name and listens away."

The problems were first noticed in February last year, Mark said. "Phil was down at a family reunion in Central Otago and he noticed his driving was a bit strange. He was doing a commentary for the New Zealand Women's Open. He was thoroughly professional of course, but he was struggling. He couldn't get the words out quite right.

"He went to the ophthalmologist and they discovered something there. That's when it all started.

"I did the commentary this year for that tournament. It was very poignant, very sad."

Mark said Phillip was "so chuffed" to get a text from Lydia Ko's coach this week with thanks from Lydia for giving her confidence behind the microphone and in front of cameras.

"He had a big smile on his face when he read that. He was very proud of her."

Longtime friend and race caller Des Coppins was Phillip's best man. "I look at Phillip as my mentor, he gave me my start." Coppins spoke to Phillip yesterday and they talked about horses.

"He said quietly, 'My horse is running today, Des,' so he is aware."

"He has a horse running - Cristal Heights. Phil has two horses and he said to me 'you know Des, I've had shares in race horses for 30 years and all of a sudden I have two horses that are winning races'."

Cristal Heights ran second in race 10 at Matamata yesterday.

- Herald on Sunday

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