Broadcaster Phillip Leishman has fallen into a coma as a result of his battle with cancer, good friend Des Coppins says.
"It was an aggressive form of cancer and it really caught up with him," Coppins, a horse racing personality and broadcaster, said yesterday.
"It is just so sad."
Leishman is being cared for at his home in Auckland, surrounded by family.
"The family are really special people. We are all still praying for him," Coppins said.
Leishman had a brain tumour operated on in March 2012 and it was hoped he would make a full recovery, however, the cancer returned resulting in the broadcaster falling seriously ill again last week.
Coppins, who was best man at Leishman's wedding, travelled to Auckland as soon as he heard his condition had deteriorated.
"I've seen him three times this week. He was speaking very softly," Coppins said.
"Now he has shut down completely."
Coppins got his first job in broadcasting thanks to Leishman and the two had been friends for more than 30 years.
"We had so many laughs on camera and off camera," he said.
Tributes from the public have been pouring into the Radio Trackside studio today, Coppins added.
"It is sad not only for his family but judging from the calls from the public today... it shows he was well loved and well respected."
Leishman has been a regular on New Zealand screens since making his first television appearance on Dunedin regional station DNTV2 before going on to cover Olympic and Commonwealth Games between 1976 and 1998.
He worked on Turf Talk with Glynn Tucker in the mid to late 1970s, and hosted 1250 episodes of quiz show Wheel of Fortune alongside Lana Coc-Kroft in the early to mid 1990s.
In 1997 he joined up with journalist Phil Smith to form company Uplink - now Sportinc - to produce the golf programme which he has described as probably his most satisfying role.
In 2011 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting and the community.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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