Russell Watson was forced into an unthinkable situation while battling a second brain tumour.
The opera singer had sold seven million records, won two classical Brits and sung for the Queen, the Pope and President Bush by 2006.
After suffering from blinding headaches he was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of two golf balls.
Thankfully, he underwent successful surgery and the tumour was found to be benign.
However, almost a year later to the day, a more aggressive second cancer was found along with bleeding on his brain.
“I went to bed one night and after that I don’t really remember anything. I just recall being hiked down the stairs by two paramedics who were telling me, ‘Stay with us pal’,” explained Russell to The Mirror in 2012.
“The tumour had haemorrhaged in four places, was close to bursting and was pressing on my optic nerve, meaning I could go blind. To hear it had come back was my worst nightmare.”
Convinced he wouldn’t pull through, Russell went against the advise of medical professionals so that he could see his daughters, Rebecca and Hannah, for potentially one last time.
“I was aware I was in a lot of trouble and I wanted to make sure I’d see them in case anything happened to me and that’s why against the advice of my surgeon I held the operation up until the next morning,” the Evening Standard reported in 2007.
The surgery was a success, but Russell was left with the agonising after-effects and needing gruelling radiotherapy.
He was forced to take a “cocktail of drugs” ever day and feared he would die in his sleep.
Back in 2012, he said: “Every four or five weeks I have blood tests and injections and then MRI and CT scans every six months.
“I hate them – it puts the fear of hell into me. I relate them to the bad news I’ve had after being in them. It’s like being slid into a coffin and I shake like a leaf.
“I can walk out in front of 60,000 people in Hyde Park and sing Nessun Dorma no problem. But put me in front of an MRI scanner and the world falls apart. But the worst is behind me now.”
Russell, who has been married to wife Louise Harris since August 2016, is still impacted by his illness, but has insisted he will never let it define him.
“For a long time I felt incredibly vulnerable,” he said. “I had this sense of dread. ‘Oh my God, is it going to happen again?’ Every night I’d go to bed thinking, ‘What if I don’t wake up again?’
“But I’ve worked my a*** off to get this healthy, to feel normal. Now I’m getting on with enjoying my life, my family and my work.”
Russell bravely opened up on his harrowing experience with his I’m A Celebrity campmates.
The singer recalled the moment he ‘died’ and explained it was the thought of his kids which brought him ‘back’.
“The second one was the ‘one’, the first wasn’t life threatening, it was painful and I nearly lost my vision,” he told his fellow stars.
“The second one was holy s***, I went home, went to bed and didn’t wake up because of a haemorrhage. My assistant found me, called the paramedics and I knew I was in trouble because the paramedic kept saying ‘stay with us, stay with us’.
“We got to the hospital and they operated. One of the most emotional things after I came out of intensive care was this bloke came up to me and said ‘nice to see you’re doing well Mr Watson’ and I realised it was ‘stay with us, stay with us’.”
When presenter Vernon Kay asked whether Russell had seen the light, he responded: “Big time.”
“I was in the MIR scanner and I could see this long strip of light, like when you’re a kid and you used to keep your bedroom door open,” explained Russell.
“It was a light strip and I was thinking if I go to that door I’m out of here and the pain stops and I’m away.
“All I could think about was my children and slowly slowly whilst thinking about my children the clatter clatter of the MRI came back and I thought I’m going to beat this.”
Before going into the castle, Russell boasted that he was strong, fit and going in there to win.
“I’m feeling fitter and stronger than I have for a long time,” he told The Mirror.
“I’ve been training like a lunatic for the last couple of weeks. I have got one of those Peloton bikes and last week I did 60 miles on it. And I have been hammering the weights as well so I feel like I am in a good place to go in there and also to test my mettle against the challenges.
“I am a very competitive human being. I would like to win. There are some very strong characters in there, so I would never assume it will happen but if someone asks ‘would I like to win’ then yeah of course I would.
“You don’t get from where I came from which is the factory floor of a Salford workshop to being the best selling classical artist in the UK without being a driven lunatic. I have always worked hard and been driven. I always grab a challenge with both hands.
“So I’m not going in there to fade into the background, that is for sure.”
Russell has been desperate to prove himself in camp and was determined to take part in the latest Bushtucker Trial.
“I’ve been desperate to get out and prove myself and just to give something back to the camp,” he remarked.
But his chipper mood was ended when he arrived at the trial clearing.
Rank Rotisserie saw the opera singer’s general knowledge put to the test, with rounds ranging from geography to literature.
Despite his enthusiasm, Russell only managed to bring home five meals for camp after struggling with his Harry Potter books and period table.
“It was a thousand times worse than I was expecting,” Russell told his campmates around the fire.
“I was expecting it to be bad, but it was like they’d had ice cubes in it all night. It was absolutely freezing.”
*I’m A Celebrity airs tonight on ITV at 9pm