Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood Reveals He Fought Small-Cell Cancer During Pandemic: 'All-Clear'

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Phil Boucher
·4 min read
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Ronnie Wood

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood is opening up about his second bout with cancer.

The rock legend was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of small-cell cancer during the coronavirus pandemic, but thankfully "came through with the all-clear" from medical specialists, Wood told The Sun on Monday.

"I've had cancer two different ways now," added Wood, 73, who revealed he'd been diagnosed with a "touch of lung cancer" in 2017 following a routine health check and later underwent a five-hour surgery to remove part of his lung.

"I had lung cancer in 2017 and I had small-cell more recently that I fought in the last lockdown."

Despite being a notorious hellraiser in the '60s and '70s, Wood has been sober for a decade and believes a "higher power" played a crucial role in his latest cancer fight — a concept he's borrowed from his time with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

"I'm going through a lot of problems now, but throughout my recovery, you have to let it go," added Wood, who has been to rehab for treatment multiple times. "And when you hand the outcome over to your higher power, that is a magic thing.

"That brings you back to the (AA and NA) Serenity Prayer: 'Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.' That's incredible. What will be will be, it's nothing to do with me. All I can do is stay positive in my attitude, be strong and fight it, and the rest is up to my higher power," he told The Sun.

Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock Ronnie Wood and his wife Sally

Wood has also drawn on two other key sources of inspiration for his recovery: his love of painting; and his love of 4½-year-old twins Gracie and Alice, whom he shares with third wife Sally, 43.

"Art therapy was self-imposed in a way, especially in lockdown," Wood — who staged an exhibition of his paintings in London last August — told The Sun. "The art has got me through it — to express and get lost. I've done so much work."

"I use my photographic memory more when it comes to painting the twins," he continued. "I'd be painting them all the time if I could, but it's amazing to be with them and just observe, soak it in that way.

Ronnie Wood with wife Sally and twin daughters Alice and Gracie

"The twins are such a blessing," he added. "Gracie is like my mum reincarnated, her nature, her figure, the way she sits and handles herself. She lets Alice run and do all the athletic stuff, and Grace just sits there and observes the situation."

With his recent cancer scare now behind him, Ronnie is focusing on releasing a new album with ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor recorded at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall. He's also releasing 500 signed prints of his artwork "Affirmation I" in aid of the abstinence-based charity Turn Up for Recovery, founded by the wife of fellow guitar legend Eric Clapton.

Suitably for Wood, it bears the words: "When I take care of myself, I can achieve anything"

David M. Benett/Getty

"That affirmation came to me in aftercare in a rehab. A female counselor who really helped me told me to state what you would love as your mantra," Wood said. "'Keep it positive.' 'When I take care of myself, I can achieve anything,' says so much and it's true. That is something I can live by."

With the UK's COVID lockdown gradually easing, the Rolling Stone is also gearing up to hit the road with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, both 77, and Charlie Watts, 79, one more time to complete the No Filter Tour the band began in autumn 2017.

"I'm just as busy as ever but nowadays I can remember what I'm doing," Wood told The Sun about touring with the world's biggest rock 'n' roll band. "The music is still throbbing away."

He continued, "I used to never stop. It must have been relentless to be around me, just crazy the stuff I did. I was erratic but none of my enthusiasm has gone."