DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell, who feared the return of his cancer would prevent him from touring this summer, rejoined his bandmates on the road at the end of last month. LEPPARD is currently headlining a massive summer tour with STYX and special guests TESLA, and Campbell — who suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma — was initially afraid he would miss at least part of the tour due to treatment.
Says Campbell: "The doctors and I have scheduled the rest of my treatments through the end of the U.K. tour in December and the travel agents have done their thing to ensure that the travel fiasco of [June 27 when Vivian missed the show in Birmingham Alabama] will not be repeated; all future travel to rejoin the tour will be on days off, thus allowing a 36-hour cushion should something go wrong.
"It's ironic that the most stressful part in all of this has not been dealing with the actual cancer or the treatment, but rather the struggle that I've had to endure with my bandmates and management in trying to convince them that this is not only logistically doable for me, but that it's a big, big part of my recovery. The stress that this has caused me has been immense. Perhaps it's something that only other cancer patients can comprehend; while everyone else wrongfully assumes it's 'best for you to stay in bed and recover,' the truth is that continuing to live your life the way you want to is the best therapy. Doing so raises a big middle finger, f*ck you to cancer.
"I do not for one minute believe that this disease will kill me. However, if I happen to be wrong about that, I would much, much rather die on my feet than die on my knees."
In an interview with the "Eddie Trunk Podcast", Vivian spoke about what it was like to find out last year that his cancer had returned after first announcing in November 2013 that he was in remission.
"For anyone who knew anything about cancer, they'd probably say, 'Well, that's not unusual,'" he said. "But I didn't. I got my diagnosis in the spring of 2013 when we were doing the Las Vegas residency with DEF LEPPARD. And as soon as we were done with that, I started six months of chemo. And I just kind of naturally assumed you do the chemo, you do a scan at the end of the chemo and it shows that you're good, and that's it. But apparently not. It was, like, ninety-something percent gone, and it was what they couldn't see on the scan that came creeping back. And it came back so fast. That's why the doctors advised me to do the stem-cell transplant — to try and kill it at the microbiological level. So it's pretty much rocket-science stuff; I mean, it's amazing technology."
Asked if he has had an opportunity to speak with some of his fellow musicians, like BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi, and other people who have gone through similar ordeals, Vivian said: "Funny enough, actually, I think that Tony Iommi and I have the same cancer — Hodgkin's lymphoma — as far as I know. But obviously I don't know what stage his was at. Now I don't know Tony personally, so I haven't talked to him about it. But I've talked to a lot of people. It's amazing. Even just through my Facebook page. I mean, you put this kind of stuff out there, and I personally was amazed by how rampant it is, how many people have been affected by it to some degree, or people that are close to them in their family. I've had a lot of advice, but to be honest, I'm just pig-headed and Irish, and I just do my own thing. The main thing for me was to continue working, and in fact, to continue my life unabated, and to not let it compromise me as much as possible. And I think that's been a big part of my mental recovery on this."
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 in 2013.