On November 3, Steve Raymond of the 100.7 WZXL radio station conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell. You can now listen to the chat using the SoundCloud widget below.
On his immunotherapy treatment in his continuing battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma:
"Immunotherapy. Yes, I'm taking this drug called pembrolizumab. I'm part of a Phase II clinical trial. I don't actually know if it's working yet, to be honest. I'll find out in early December. 'Cause right after Thanksgiving, we do another set of scans, and that's basically the determining time. My doctors and I are gonna sit down and have a look at that and see if it's holding the cancer at bay or shrinking the tumors. And if it is, I'll be able to continue this treatment for a couple of years, which will be the best possible outcome, 'cause then I'll be able to continue to work for a couple of years. If not, then, you know, I've gotta reconsider my options. But I'm hopeful, you know — fingers are crossed. It's been great to be able to do that. I started doing this treatment six months ago, and it's been fantastic, because it meant that I was able to continue working, you know, as opposed to doing a more traditional treatment like radiation or something, which would have meant I would have had to miss the tour. And work, for me, is catharsis, you know. It's very important to me to be up there on stage doing it, and that's what keeps me alive."
On how playing music is therapeutic for him:
"Absolutely. And I one hundred percent agree with you on that. I couldn't imagine anything worse than being at home. You know, when I first got my diagnosis, the guys in the band, you know, obviously, out of genuine concern for me, they said, 'Well, you know, you don't have to go on tour if you want. Just stay at home and look after your health. And, to be honest, I couldn't imagine anything worse, you know. [Laughs] I've gotta be out there and doing it. And particularly with the LAST IN LINE stuff [Campbell's other band, which also features fellow founding DIO members Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Claude Schnell, plus singer Andrew Freeman, who has previously fronted HURRICANE and LYNCH MOB]. I mean, like I say, it's really cathartic to pick up my Les Paul and get angry with it again, like I did when I was in my twenties. That makes me feel really, really good."
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.