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Def Leppard's Viv Campbell: 'I'll probably be dealing with cancer for life'

By Allan Preston

Published 09/12/2015

Vivian Campbell
Vivian Campbell

Def Leppard's Belfast-born guitarist Vivian Campbell has said an experimental treatment is helping him manage throat cancer while on tour.

Campbell (53) - who played an emotional homecoming gig at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Monday night - said he was flying back to Los Angeles every three weeks for the course of treatment known as immunotherapy.

"It allows me to continue to work, there's no side effects and I've still got some hair," he said.

"It's not like chemo at all - it's very benign in my case.

"I just have to fly back to Los Angeles every three or three and a half weeks to do infusions."

The former Rathmore Grammar pupil, who has two tumours in his throat, said the treatment was "holding it in place" and that his doctors believed the tumours may even have reduced in size.

Immunotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment that focuses on tricking the body's immune system into attacking cancer cells.

He first announced that he was suffering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma in June 2013.

He joked at the time that he wanted his fans to be aware of the "new aerodynamic hairstyle". I don't want anyone to be so shocked by my new look that they ask for a refund," he said.

Since then he has been unable to shake the illness for long, even after three rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune in September, he said that after going through his early treatment, he "naively thought that'd be it, and I was done with it. I guess given the benefit now of my experiences with this, I kinda realise that I'll probably be dealing with it for the rest of my life.

"But as far as side effects, there's absolutely nothing that's of any concern - it's just lowered my thyroid considerably. But if that's the only side effect, I'll certainly take it. It's a lot easier to deal with than doing chemo."

Although Vivian has had no problems rocking out on stage, the punishing schedule of life on the road has proved much harder to handle.

He told BBC Newsline on Monday: "The hour or hour-and-a-half we're on stage is bliss, that's joy. You know, it's all the bits in between that's difficult - the travel, the jetlag. Going from Perth to Singapore to London via Los Angeles all within a week, it's hard to know what time of day it is or indeed what day it is."

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