“The tumours were in a very difficult place to get to – and this was after months of chemo!” explains Chris.
“The only option was to try and operate and remove them. It was very much a case of staring down the barrel.
“I didn’t know whether I’d survive that particular episode and there’s nothing more confronting than that.”
Looking back, Chris says being given a potential death sentence when he was just 37 years old – and before he had experienced true love and fatherhood – made him realise just how precious life really is.
“All of those things that you stress over in daily life, suddenly they all disappeared. Life became very clear. It was all about trying to stay alive. You have this realisation that life can be as simple as just enjoying having it.”
Chris was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1998 aged 33 and had his right testicle removed.
He thought he’d beaten it – only for it to return to his abdomen four years later, after he missed his annual check-up the previous year because he was busy covering the September 11 attacks in New York City.
At the time he was on a career-high, hosting Sunrise with Melissa Doyle, but even that seemed unimportant when he knew he could die.
The next six months were some of the worst of his life.
“I was given a really bleak diagnosis and straight into chemotherapy, radiotherapy, operations,” he says.
The chemo caused debilitating vomiting, hair loss, weight loss, mouth ulcers, and even lung damage.
“I started to lose hope as well. I remember coming into the chemo ward one morning and bursting into tears and saying, ‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take.’ It’s really painful and really awful.”
Chris says he’s reminded what a gift life is each time he gazes at his wife of 18 years, ABC news presenter Kathryn Robinson, along with their 15-year-old twins, Sam and Lucy. It’s a love he thought he might never experience.
Admitting that he put his career first and had no plans to settle down before cancer changed everything, Chris tells us: “When you come out of something like that you have a reassessment.
You look at what’s in front of you and think that maybe it’s time to embrace things like love.”
“I was super fortunate to meet this wonderful woman, Kathryn. We were really very lucky to be able to have children. The twins came along a couple of years later and the absolute joy of that is very difficult to even put into words.”
“They were IVF babies. I had to put sperm on ice before the cancer ordeal began and it was a difficult battle to conceive them.”
Chris and Kathryn, 47, went through the heartache of four grueling rounds of IVF before Sam and Lucy were conceived. This monumental personal battle again reminded Chris of what was really important in life.
“When the twins were born it was possibly the greatest moment of my life really,” he says.
“The nurse insisted that I take my shirt off and I was bare-chested holding Sam and Lucy in my arms. It was a really emotional moment in the quiet of that room, just holding the two of them.”
“I was so happy to have just been handed life back.”
“Cancer was one of the worst things to have ever happened to me, but in a funny sense it was one of the best things too because it does give you that different and special view on life.”