Michael Douglas' cancer fight isn't officially over, but with the tumor in his throat gone, Douglas tells Matt Lauer that he wouldn't "wish the experience on (his) worst enemy," and he is at this stage, "relieved."
In an exclusive interview on TODAY, Douglas says that there are some lingering effects to the chemotherapy and radiation he underwent to fight his stage IV cancer. "Salivary ducts have been closed down as a result of the radiation, probably for at least a year or two," which leaves Douglas' mouth very dry, especially at night, but his appetite (Douglas lost about 32 pounds) is back. "I've put about 12 (pounds) back. But, I mean, I got another 20, 25 to go," he said.
Douglas also talked to Lauer about how his kids, son Dylan, 10, and daughter Carys, 7, coped with his cancer diagnosis, which they knew about "right from the beginning."
"It's a very scary word. But I told them it was hopeful. And I also took them down to a couple of radiation treatments. So they came into the room and they saw all the Star Wars treatment going around. And they saw them put the (radiation) mask on your face 'cause they have to kind of bolt you down like Hannibal Lecter or something," Douglas said. "At that age it was good for them. They thought it was cool, you know, all this space age stuff. And so it made up for all those days when Dad was lying on the couch and couldn't get up, and their patience was really, really appreciated. And we've had a big celebration this last couple of days when I found out the tumor's gone."
Douglas' cancer battle has been chronicled with Douglas' cooperation, on TODAY and in places like People magazine, but some of his story -- specifically the story painted by portraits snapped by paparazzi -- has been documented without his permission, and Douglas resents that.
"With the amount of paparazzi that they have and these video cameras, you know, you just can't do anything. And I resent the amount of imposition on our children, too, because it used to be at least they (the paparazzi) would try to keep them out of that and they don't at all," Douglas said. "But they were having -- there was sort of a macabre enjoyment out of sort of watching me go down there for a while, I felt, by the paparazzi."
Douglas is looking ahead though: he's playing Liberace opposite Matt Damon in an upcoming film, and he feels he's got odds on his side, when it comes to being healthy enough to do that. "The odds are with the tumor gone, and what I know about this particular type of cancer, I've got it beat."
For even more of Lauer's complete interview with Douglas, tune into "Dateline: NBC" Sunday, Jan. 23.