Jean-Christophe Novelli wore disguise to see cancer survivor son in hospital

TV chef Jean-Christophe ­Novelli has told how he had to ­disguise himself to visit his son in hospital while on the run in Celebrity Hunted.

The 58-year-old was trying to raise cash for cancer on the reality show but little Valentino had also suffered from the disease and had an appointment that Novelli was determined not to miss.

The chef had been evading capture along with Italian chef Aldo Zilli and knew he could be caught if he broke cover.

The Hell’s Kitchen star said: “I have never missed any of ­Valentino’s ­appointments and there was no way on earth I was going to miss this one.

“It was very stressful and Aldo and I were in danger of being caught but I dressed up as builder to get into the hospital and ran inside to kiss my partner and son… and then changed into a doctor to get out.”

Novelli and fiancee Michelle Kennedy found a lump in the side of Valentino’s neck just a few weeks after he was born in 2016.

Doctors diagnosed a rare child cancer neuroblastoma and he spent more than a year in hospital fighting for his life.

Valentino was given the all-clear in April last year but the three-year-old’s battle back to full health is not yet over.

Novelli added: “We’re so lucky he’s even alive. After a failed attempt at surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy, our boy Valentino survived.

“Sadly, he is not speaking yet after the treatment and I don’t think he will for a very long
time. But that’s fine with us because he is alive.”

Novelli told how leaving Michelle, 43, ­Valentino, other sons Jean, 11, Jacques, seven, and grown-up daughter Christina from his first marriage to go on the show in aid of Stand Up to Cancer took its toll on him.

He and Zilli were aiming to get their hands on a share of £100,000 for the charity.

Novelli said: “In the hospital my son was already making noises like an older boy. I couldn’t believe that he had developed so much in the time I had been away.”

Speaking of being on the run, he added: “I was paranoid and stressed all the time. When I came back, I slept for five days.

“But, really, the emotional stress of the show was Mickey Mouse compared to what my family has been through.

“We count ourselves lucky because Valentino survived. We cannot thank the NHS enough.

“Taking part in this show is a way of giving ­something back. If love was the cure, we’d be fine. But that’s not the case so we need to do ­everything we can to raise more money to research and test new medicines to save people.

“I know what it’s like when you walk down that hospital corridor and hand your son over to someone else… and just pray.

“Those bags of medicine are poison, they have a hazard sign on them and you’re feeding it to the person you love the most in the world.

“We would be in hospital and meet new poorly kids, and then come back another day, and their bed would be empty.
They had died. It was horrible.”

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