POISON drummer Rikki Rockett says that he is still cancer free, one year after he started undergoing an experimental treatment.
Rockett was diagnosed with oral cancer two years ago. In early 2016, he came to Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego, where he underwent experimental cancer immunotherapy, which has now eradicated the tumor.
The 55-year-old musician initially received radiation and chemotherapy, like many cancer patients, but became concerned when the cancer appeared to be returning.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment that focuses on tricking the body's immune system into attacking cancer cells.
In a March 8 post on his official Facebook page, Rockett wrote: "One year ago today, I started a clinical trial for immunotherapy one week after my daughter Lucy's third birthday. I was faced with oral cancer that was not responding to radiation or chemo.
1) Have surgery that would render me unable to ever speak again.
2) Try a different chemo that would only buy me time
3) Try a clinical trial of a new drug combination of immunotherapy. However, if it didn't work, it might be too late to change course and save me.
"I rolled the dice and began a trial at UCSD Moore's Cancer Center led by Dr. Ezra Cohen and Dr. Sandip Patel. Leaders in the immunotherapy field. Dr. Cohen was the lead [doctor] for head and neck cancer.
"I was more scared than I have ever been, but nine weeks later when I got my first PET/CT/MRI, the cancer had shrunk over 90%!!! A mere nine weeks later, I was 100% cancer free on July 13th, one day before my son Jude's seventh birthday.
"One year later, I am still cancer free and preparing for the POISON 2017 30th-anniversary tour. I have Dr. Cohen, Dr. Patel, Tony Le, my amazing girlfriend Tc Smith, my friend Cortni Miller and the all the fantastic staff at UCSD Moore's Cancer center and, last but certainly not least, God to thank. My little girl Lucy would touch my neck and say, 'All gone, Daddy' almost every day. It was gone…"
Rockett revealed in a 2015 interview that his tongue cancer diagnosis was caused by HPV, the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection. He said: "It is the number one leading cause of oral cancer these days. There's less and less of the truck drivers that chew tobacco for thirty years getting it, because people are more aware that that kind of stuff isn't good. So we are getting marathon runners and all these elite athletes with this. I have a friend that's a therapist, and five years ago, it was five percent of the people she treated, and now it's close to ninety percent."
He continued: "It can be spread sexually, but now they're saying that it can spread [through] deep-kissing and actually hand to mouth. I mean, if you see the Olympic swimmers, they swim and they smack their hand on the side of the pool for each lap, and their hands are full of warts and stuff from HPV. Now the wart kind of HPV is not the same as the strain that causes cancer, but it is spread almost identically. For men, you can't tell if you have it. For women, you can get a papsmear. But the doctor estimated probably it was fifteen [or] twenty years ago [when I contracted it], and my body probably got rid of it, but it mutated itself and my body would probably see that again and get rid of it. But there's no way to tell who got it. I mean, I know a couple that's been married for fifteen years and they've never cheated on each other, and they're pointing their finger at each other [after one of them was diagnosed with oral cancer], and it turned into a thing until the doctor sat 'em down and went, 'Look, you can get this so many ways.'"
POISON's co-headlining tour with DEF LEPPARD and special guest TESLA will kick off on April 8 in Manchester, New Hampshire and will wrap on June 25 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
POISON and DEF LEPPARD first hit the road together back in 2009, and then again three years later.
POISON appeared at the 2013 Indy 500 Miller Lite Carb Day, but has otherwise been mostly playing private shows, including one in January 2015.
The band hasn't done any major touring since taking part in the 2012 "Rock Of Ages" trek with DEF LEPPARD and LITA FORD.