DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell will receive a stem-cell transplant in September after doctors discovered his cancer had returned.
Campbell — who before joining DEF LEPPARD in 1992 was well known for his work with DIO and WHITESNAKE — went public with his Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis last summer, but announced in November that he was in remission.
However, Campbell has now revealed is still battling the disease with a new high-tech chemo treatment.
In a new interview with Utah’s Daily Herald, he said: “The remission was a little bit premature. It came right back. I don’t know if the cancer came back or it never totally went away, you know, but the initial scan I did last fall after doing my chemo, the scan came back clean. But there was something about it the oncologist was unclear about and didn’t feel good about, so I was referred to another specialist.
“I suppose one of the advantages about being in this city [Los Angeles] that I dislike so much is that there’s a lot of great medical facilities here. There’s a place called City Of Hope just outside of L.A., and there’s a specific oncologist there who’s probably the leading oncologist with regards to Hodgkin’s in the U.S., and he sent me to him. He had a look at my scans and, you know, everyone was a little bit apprehensive, and he said, ‘Well, for now you appear to be in remission.” I kind of took that ball and I ran with it, and, unfortunately, it turned out to be premature. So the followup scan that I did a couple months later showed that there was definitely some growth coming back. I ended up having a couple of biopsies — I did a needle biopsy in January and that showed that I was fine, but my oncologist said, and he was right, that needle biopsies are notoriously uncertain, and he suggested I do a surgical biopsy. So I went to Dublin and started to record with the band, we started work on a new record, and as soon as I got back from that, I did another surgical biopsy and that showed that the cancer had definitely come back.”
He continued: “I’m actually doing this new high-tech chemo treatment, I’m about halfway through it already, and it’s really kind of easy going. It’s the first new drug that’s been discovered for Hodgkin’s since 1977 and they made this discovery in 2011, and it’s actually being pioneered here at City Of Hope, so I’m part of this research clinical trial that’s going on. It’s very, very benign chemo, actually it just targets — I don’t know how it works, obviously I’m not a medical person, but somehow or other it just manages to target the cancer cells. It’s not like old-school, carpet-bomb chemo where it kills all the fast-growing cells, so I haven’t experienced any hair loss or any issues with my skin or nails or anything this time around, which is good. And assuming that works, I’m going to have to continue a couple of treatments, actually, over the course of the tour, so that’s awkward to work around, but not impossible. Assuming that it all works and I actually get to a perceived remission stage by August, then as soon as the tour is over in early September I’m going to get a stem-cell transplant, which I can’t say I’m looking forward to, but I’ve been told if I don’t do that, the cancer’s going to just keep coming back every couple years. And every time it’s a little bit more resistant. It is what it is. It could be worse — but at least I have health insurance. [laughs]”
Campbell, who has just joined his DEF LEPPARD bandmates on tour as they kicked off a 42-date trek with KISS last night (Monday, June 23), in Salt Lake City, Utah, believes that being on stage might be the best therapy for him. “It absolutely is,” he said. “And when I was going through the chemo last year and the band said to me, ‘We’ve been offered these shows. Can you do them? Do you want to do them? Or we can get someone to cover for you?’ I said, ‘(Bleep) that (bleep)! I’m not having someone else do my job. It actually was very, very therapeutic for me to go and get on stage and do that. And the same is true this year. There’s nothing worse than sitting around the house concentrating on the negative. I’ve always enjoyed my work, and I’ve always felt very fortunate to be able to do what I love. I am well up for the summer tour indeed.”
Campbell’s health setback is not expected to affect the recording sessions for DEF LEPPARD’s’ next album, the follow-up to 2008’s “Songs From The Sparkle Lounge”, which is being laid down in several sessions.
Campbell told a Florida radio station in April: “Our third and final instalment will be in November, to finish up the record. We’re hoping for a release for early spring, 2015.”