Wilko Johnson Says He’s ‘Cured’ of Cancer
Wilko Johnson, an alumnus of Dr. Feelgood and Ian Dury's Blockheads, has announced he’s “cured” of terminal pancreatic cancer.
The British guitar hero had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2012 and was given 10 months to live after deciding to reject chemotherapy. But the rocker now claims to be cancer free after undergoing radical surgery to remove the tumour, the BBC reports.
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"It was an 11-hour operation," he told the audience at Wednesday night’s Q Awards in London, where he received the prestigious Icon Award. "This tumour weighed 3kg -- that's the size of a baby," he continued. "Anyway, they got it all. They cured me."
Johnson went under the knife in April. The procedure is said to have involved the removal of his pancreas, spleen part of his stomach, small and large intestines and taking out and reconstructing blood vessels relating to the liver.
The good news traveled fast. A message distributed from the artist’s Twitter page noted, “Well Wilko's trending and it's all for the right reasons. The stream of good wishes is incredible - on behalf of Wilko, thank you all!”
Well Wilko's trending and it's all for the right reasons. The stream of good wishes is incredible - on behalf of Wilko, thank you all!
— Wilko Johnson (@wilkojohnson) October 22, 2014
Johnson co-founded Dr. Feelgood in 1971 and performed on the band's first four studio albums, including 1975's "Down By the Jetty" and their lone U.K. No. 1, 1976's "Stupidity." His no-pick, open handed playing technique and frantic stage persona were integral to the band's appeal. The group's back-to-basics R&B/rock style eased the path from glam to punk.
After leaving Dr. Feelgood in 1977, Johnson went on to front his own band, The Wilko Johnson Band, and he was briefly a member of Ian Dury and the Blockheads (Dury died from cancer in March 2000). Fans of HBO's Game of Thrones might recognize Wilko from his role as a mute executioner.
Dr. Feelgood Guitarist Wilko Johnson Has Terminal Cancer
After his initial, grim prognosis, Johnson collaborated with The Who's Roger Daltrey for an album Going Back Home, and he played a string of farewell dates (Daltrey donated his proceeds to the British Teenage Cancer Trust, which he co-founded).
When Billboard’s Gary Graff caught up with Wilko earlier in the year, the veteran artist had this to say, "I can't arrange things too far in the future 'cause I don't know whether that future will exist, so we have to do things kind of step by step."
Now, with his health improved, Wilko can plan ahead.
"It's so weird and so strange that it's kind of hard to come to terms with it in my mind,” Johnson told the BBC overnight. “Now, I'm spending my time gradually coming to terms with the idea that my death is not imminent, that I am going to live on."