DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell, whose cancer is once again in “remission,” is currently undergoing a new round of chemotherapy before receiving a stem-cell transplant in September.
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.
The term “remission” means that the symptoms of the cancer have either been eliminated or reduced. When the tumor is completely gone, doctors call it “complete remission.”
However, Campbell revealed earlier in the year that the cancer had returned and he was battling the disease with a new high-tech chemo treatment.
In a posting on his Facebook page earlier today (Thursday, July 31), Campbell offered the following update on his cancer battle: “For those of you that give a toss, here’s the latest and greatest on my cancer situation.
“I’m currently in Boston and I did a scan on Tuesday morning. The scan shows that the cancer is in remission. Great news, but I’m trying not to get too excited about it as I heard that same phrase late last year only to be disappointed again a few months after when it returned.
“The plan is to do a stem cell transplant as soon as the [current DEF LEPPARD] tour [with KISS] is finished. However, to keep me in remission, my doctors have recommended that I do another, third round of the chemo (I.C.E.), so I’m back in hospital, all hooked up and doing my rock ‘n’ roll drugs. Keef would be most proud!”
This past June, Campbell spoke to Utah’s Daily Herald about how he found that his cancer had returned. “The remission was a little bit premature,” he said. “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 follow-up 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 joined his DEF LEPPARD bandmates on tour as they kicked off a 42-date trek with KISS on 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.”