Rod Stewart health: It was a terrible shock- star, 76, on cancer battle

Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster dance around Christmas tree

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Beginning his musical career back in 1962, the 76-year-old began busking with a harmonica. Before long the star had released a solo album, topping the UK charts with single You Wear It Well in 1972. After enjoying 28 years of success, the star was struck with a devastating cancer diagnosis in 2000, one which nearly cost him the voice that had made him so famous.

Despite keeping in good health with regular workouts, doctors found a lump on Rod’s thyroid gland, which turned out to be cancerous.

“It was a terrible shock. I mean, I just went into total silence for a few days,” Rod told ABC at the time.

The NHS explains that thyroid cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland- a small gland at the base of the neck.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include the following:

  • A painless lump or swelling in the front of the neck – although only one in 20 neck lumps are cancer
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Unexplained hoarseness that does not get better after a few weeks
  • A sore throat that does not get better
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Writing about his ordeal for the Daily Mail, Rod said: “I was clearly as fit as a butcher’s dog — working out every day, doing shows, still playing weekend football at the age of 55.

“[But] the results of the tests indicated that the ‘something’ on my thyroid gland was a malignant growth: cancer.

“That piece of news will really do it to you. When the initial numbness had worn off, I felt fearful, vulnerable to a degree that I never had before.”

After overcoming the shock, Rod was rushed into surgery, and within a matter of mintues the lump had been removed.

“The only blessing was that everything happened quickly. Two days after the biopsy, I was driven back to hospital for an operation — under the name Billy Potts (the names of my two dogs) to narrow the chances of a leak to the Press, who’d probably not shy away from the story of ‘Rock Star Rod’ going into hospital for a ‘cancer op’,” Rod continued to explain.

“When I came round, I was given the news that the surgeon had removed everything that needed to be removed. And, because all the bad stuff was out, no chemotherapy was required — which, in turn, meant there was no risk that I’d lose my hair.

“As anyone who has been through this experience knows, when you are so close to something that is potentially life-threatening, you tend to get your life in perspective.”

For Rod however, the fight was not the cancer itself, but with the struggle to get his voice back.

“I knew going into the operation it might be difficult coming back because they cut all the way through my neck,” Rod explained. As well as his voice, the star also struggled with memory loss.

He continued: “Of course you suffer memory loss, so you almost forget how to sing. It took me nine months, and I’d start off singing, ‘Wake up Maggie’, and I got something and then a little bit more every day.

“But it took me nine months to get my voice back.”

Since his voice returned, Rod has been conscious of looking after it, especially as he ages. Talking on The One Show he explained that he warms up for an hour and warms down for 15 minutes.

“Sometimes if I have four concerts in a week, I get a bit hoarse so I put a sign around my neck saying I can’t talk,” He said. “It’s just like playing football if you’re tired you rest the muscles.”

The NHS explains that after thyroid surgery individuals should rest at home for a few weeks, avoiding any activities that could put strain on your neck such as heavy lifting.

The outlook for those who have been treated for thyroid cancer is a positive one. With around nine out of 10 people living for five years after diagnosis.

Heartbreakingly for Rod, in 2017 he again had to battle cancer, after a screening of his prostate detected the deadly disease. But again after a series of treatment, the star was able to overcome the condition.

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