GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF contestant Chris Geiger has told how he wants to show fellow patients there’s life after cancer.
Chris, 50, lost a lung to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and says baking was what helped him through his recovery.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Post Chris said: “If I can inspire people with cancer, it would be amazing.
“I was glued to the TV and radio while having my treatment, obsessed with following people who had successfully beaten the disease.”
Chris, who lives in Bristol, already “gets a buzz” from helping and talking with other patients and admits the exposure of being on Bake Off could get his message out to many more people.
And he knows the difference healthy eating can make.
“After my recovery from cancer, I became fixated with my health,” he admits.
“I researched what had possibly caused my illness – and more importantly what I could do to remain in remission.
“I started baking so I knew exactly what I was eating. I’ve also lost over six stone in the process. When chatting with patients, I’m always banging on about the connections between what we eat, exercise and cancer.”
The opening episode of the new series, the first on Channel 4, pulled in 6.5 million viewers, the channel’s biggest audience since the 2012 Paralympic Games.
And despite complaints about the number of adverts, fans still largely gave it a thumbs-up as they warmed to the bakers and got used to the new presenters Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding and judge Prue Leith.
Chris said he was persuaded to apply by friends and family who dubbed him the “Heston Blumenthal of organic bread” due to his novel ingredients and unusual flavour combinations.
The whole process involved nine months of auditions, bakes, interviews and technical challenges which he says were tough and relentless. And stepping in to the tent was a “terrifying” experience.
“I experienced feelings of anxiety, excitement, mixed with adrenaline and pride.
“At times I felt like a teenager again, plucking up the courage to ask a girl out. The next it reminded me of that awful feeling of lying on a hospital trolley, waiting to go down to theatre.
“Prue was exceptionally kind, hugging me the first time we met, putting me at ease. Sandi was hilarious, great fun, talking about her experiences.
“Noel and I constantly swapped jokes, cracked stupid comments about becoming a double act and discussed our passion for bright shirts.”
Like the other bakers, Chris spent endless hours trying to perfect his culinary creations for the show, only to have wife Catherine criticise his efforts.
But a note from her helped ease his anxieties.
“I’d read a good luck note from Mrs G, which she packed in my case,” adds Chris.
“I also rubbed my ‘Brave Boy’ medal, which one of the nurses gave me as a joke many years ago, for each time I had to endure some horrible cancer treatment or procedure.”
The Great British Bake Off, Tuesday 8pm, Channel 4.