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A chance encounter with an Australian doctor led to Billy Connolly’s Parkinson’s diagnosis

A doctor who first noticed the early signs of Parkinson’s disease in Sir Billy Connolly has spoken about his encounter with the legendary comedian.

Sir Connolly was diagnosed with the condition in 2013, the same year he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.

The Scottish comedian has recently revealed new details about his battle with Parkinson’s, saying he can feel his life “slipping away”.

It was a chance encounter with a fan in 2012 in Los Angeles that encouraged him to get tested for the disease.

That fan was Tasmanian surgeon Gary Fettke.

Doctor Fettke tells Chris Smith he came across the much-loved comedian in a hotel foyer and initially thought he had been drinking.

“A few of us were fans and we caught up with him. I looked at him and I went, ‘I actually don’t think you’ve been on the grog. You might actually have early Parkinson’s’.”

The next morning Dr Fettke saw Sir Connolly again and approached him.

“I went and had a word to him and his manager, quite respectfully and said… ‘I’m concerned that you look to be shuffling and things have changed’,” he tells Chris.

“If you do start tumbling or tripping go along and see your doctor and just mention the word Parkinson’s.”

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Sir Connolly has recently spoken about his battle with the disease and has admitted he is nearing the end of his life.

“It doesn’t frighten me – it’s an adventure. And it’s quite interesting to see myself slipping away as bits slip off and leave me,” he told the BBC.

2GB’s Entertainment Reporter Peter Ford says Sir Connolly’s words are confronting but in some ways uplifting.

“It does remind you of the strength of people and somebody like him who is determined to do the best he can for as long as he can, even though his body is failing him.”

Click PLAY below to hear from Entertainment Reporter Peter Ford 

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