DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell, who has been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the past three years, tells The Irish Times in a new interview that his “worst-ever show” took place in the summer of 2014 at the Los Angeles Forum. He says: “We were on tour with KISS and I was having chemotherapy at the time, scheduling my treatments around the shows and the travel. It was one of the three regimes of chemotherapy that I had gone through over the last several years, but this was a particularly brutal one. It was called Ice — named after the combination of drugs used: ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide.”
He continues: “I don’t remember a thing about that show, but I do know we had to cut out a few of the songs as I sing a lot of the high parts and there was no way I was going to reach those notes that night. I’ve no idea how we got through it, but somehow we did.
“I had been at hospital the whole night before this show getting an infusion of Ice. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turns out I had a bad allergic reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs. My eyes were completely swollen and I looked as if I had just done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.”
Campbell adds: “That was the first time in my life that I wore sunglasses indoors for an arena show, but I looked truly horrendous and needed something to hide behind. As a result of the chemotherapy, for that entire tour I was completely bald; I didn’t even have eyebrows.”
Campbell recently spoke in detail about the treatment that he is currently receiving for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He told Headlines & Global News: “[I live] in Los Angeles and I’m continuing my treatment at City of Hope, which is nearby L.A., and they’re wonderful, wonderful doctors there. I’m currently doing immunotherapy, which is the latest and greatest treatment for cancer. It’s still part of a clinical trial that I’m a part of. The drugs are that new. I’m actually taking a drug called pembrolizumab, which is the same stuff that cured Jimmy Carter’s melanoma recently, so it’s actually the shining star of these new courses of immunotherapy drugs. So, like I said, I’m very, very, very fortunate to be able to do this. I actually got great results earlier this week. I did some scans and the results show there’s very little cancer activity compared to the last scan three months ago, so it seems to be doing the job, and I’m certainly feeling good, and there’s absolutely minimal side effects, so it’s a whole different way of treating cancer. It’s good.”
The former DIO guitarist, who has two tumors in his throat, told the Belfast Telegraph the treatment was “holding it in place” and that his doctors believed the tumors may even have reduced in size.
Immunotherapy is a revolutionary approach to cancer therapy, and the idea behind it is to marshal the body’s own defenses and aid them in the fight against cancer.
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 in June 2013.