AT 29, actor Blair Milan was fit, healthy and feeling good — or mostly good. Looking back, there were some signs things weren’t entirely right, says his mother Lyndey Milan, the food writer, broadcaster and co-host with her son of Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece.
‘‘ He had infected wisdom teeth and the oral surgeon said until you get these wisdom teeth out you’re not going to get better, because he had some shortness of breath,’’ she says.
‘‘ But it wasn’t until the last doctor that he got a blood test, and . . . that was the day before he collapsed and went to hospital anyway.’’
Blair was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and died within three days.
‘‘ It seems that if he had been diagnosed sooner he still would’ve got this sick, but he would’ve had to undergo chemotherapy and then died,’’ Lyndey says. ‘‘ He was a boy; they think they’re invincible. ‘‘ We had the same GP his whole life but when he moved away, when you’re sick and you live in Erskineville, you don’t get on your motor scooter to go back to Roseville to go to the old GP, you go to someone down the road.’’
Lyndey and Blair filmed their series in the Peloponnese region of Greece last year. They wanted to combine food and travel and archaeology and culture but also to engage with the locals.
‘‘ And there’s that element of adventure,’’ she says, ‘‘ Plus you’ve got the mother-son relationship. I used to think, oh isn’t that great, there’s been the Two Fat Ladies, The Hairy Bikers, The Cook and the Chef, well no one can pinch our idea — mother and son.’’
Their close relationship (Lyndey describes Blair as a mummy’s boy) is apparent, but she says she wants it to be a lovely show on its own merits, ‘‘ not just because Blair’s died’’.
‘‘ SBS were delightful, they said ‘ do you want us to pull the series’, even though they’d taped it, and we said ‘ no’, Blair’d come back and bite us in the bum. Blair absolutely loved being the centre of attention and he’s so good, he’s so good in the series, how could I deny him that?
‘‘ It just wouldn’t make sense. He’s just so joyful. Blair got up every morning and consciously chose to be happy, he consciously chose to make the most of every day and of every minute. He was just a really upbeat guy.’’
He died on April 17, and Lyndey says that, five weeks later, she hadn’t watched a whole episode. ‘‘ I’m fine because I’m talking to you,’’ she says. ‘‘ The old protective mechanism, when you’ve been around as long as I have, it kicks in.
‘‘ I feel that I’m doing something constructive. It’s just the other times that it’s really difficult and especially when it’s just yourself.
‘‘ My house was always full of all his friends — they’re like my kids as well — so I don’t know, I think it’ll get much worse before it gets better. It’s still unbelievable that it’s happened.
‘‘ How can you ever believe it’s happened? You think he’s going to walk in the door.’’ Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece SBS One, Thursday 8pm