Microsoft co-founder and major philanthropist Paul Allen announced last night he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — certainly upsetting news. Everyone is rooting for him.

But when did Allen really become ill again? It’s anyone’s guess what exactly is going on with the 56-year-old owner of the Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Seahawks and recently bankrupt Charter Communications.

Last May, Allen abruptly left the Cannes Film Festival and his famed 414 foot yacht, the Octopus, and returned to Seattle. Allen — reportedly worth $10.5 billion — loves to party, and had tons of celebs partying hard. But his closest friends insisted to me that the cancer was back, and that he needed immediate treatment. Here’s the column I filed.

In fact, Allen’s people were obsessed with keeping press off the boat during the one party he did attend. The reports that came back were that the normally fleshy multi-billionaire was alarmingly thin.

Here’s what Allen looked like on June 9, when he turned up at a Blazers game.

Allen’s spokesman denied everything, and even denied he’d been sick through the prior year. But now it turns out that Allen had heart valve replacement surgery, at least, in that time. At the end of this past September he told a writer from the Portland Oregonian that he was “feeling much better” after hitting “a few bumps in the road.”

So who knows what’s really going on? Allen’s PR people are not going to tell us the truth. For example, this new release of info claims that he was diagnosed early last month — meaning October. But check out this picture from September 15; Allen’s change in appearance was being questioned then.

Of course, the irony can’t be lost on Allen: We wouldn’t be able to go back and have all these links and easy access to his history if he and Bill Gates hadn’t invented all this stuff. Same goes for Apple’s Steve Jobs and his illness.

We can only hope he’s on the mend now, and that he’s back in his beloved South of France — where he also has a massive estate — by next year’s Cannes Film Festival — and playing his guitar with Jon Bon Jovi and friends.

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