IRON MAIDEN frontman Bruce Dickinson has spoken to Metal Hammer about his battle with cancer.
A statement released in February indicated that Dickinson had a single growth on his tongue, but he later revealed he also had two tumors removed from his neck.
He was given the all-clear in May.
Dickinson tells Metal Hammer: “You end up with the metabolism of a hummingbird during this treatment because you’re being cooked from the inside out. But your body’s also trying to heal itself rapidly, and it goes into overdrive. I think that’s one reason why you lose weight. It’s simply because your system is banging away and then eventually it all dropped back down to normal.”
He adds: “It’s fascinating. Basically, I am my own science project.”
On the topic of what he has gone through in the past seven months, Dickinson told BBC in July: “Well, I’ve just been through what, actually, a load of people go through every day. I mean, ‘cause it’s thousands of people in the U.K. and around the world who have treatment for this kind of thing. So, in that respect, the only thing that’s special about it is that I’m a quite well-known person, so… But I’ve been fortunate. I had a really good bounceback. And everybody says, ‘Hey, it’s gone.’ So I’m just getting better now, really — healing up.”
Asked how big the tumor was, Dickinson said: “I had two, actually. One was three and a half centimeters — the size of a golf ball. And the other one was two and a half centimeters, and getting a bit bigger. And that was the only symptom — I had a lump in my neck, and that was the second one. So I went to the doc, and they went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit weird.’ [They] took a scan of it, had a look, had a poke around, and went, ‘You have head and neck cancer.’ So I went, ‘That’s a bit of a blow’ But you get on with it. You crack on and you get on with it. So… that was it.”
He continued: “Funnily enough, since I was treated for it, I’ve met half a dozen people my age who all had exactly the same type of tumor, the same location, all had similar treatments, and they varied in age from 40 to late 60s.”
Regarding how the treatment has affected his voice, Dickinson said: “Well, I mean, speaking voice-wise, everything is fine. I mean, the whole thing is still healing up, so, you can imagine, to get rid of that with radiation has given it… The inside of my head has been cooked, pretty effectively. So, you know, that will all take a while to heal up and it’s coming back. But, I mean, I’ve got… I can sing, I can talk… I haven’t gone out and done the equivalent of trying to run a hundred meters in the same way that I used to sing before. ‘Cause let it all calm down. I only finished coming out of treatment two months ago, for God’s sake, and the doctor said, ‘It’ll take a year for you to be better.’ Well, we’ve beaten that by about six months so far, but I’m not gonna try and push things to prove a point. We’ve got loads of time.”
Asked by U.K.’s Kerrang! magazine if Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis affected the recording of “The Book Of Souls”, IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris said: “Well, it didn’t at all, because Bruce didn’t know and none of us knew anything about… There was no inkling of any of it. He’d finished all his vocal bits completely anyway, and then there were some other bits and pieces we were doing. Really, we didn’t know anything — he didn’t show any signs at all. I mean, his singing, when you hear it… He’s singing better than ever.”
He continued: “It didn’t cause any problems in that department at all. He wasn’t showing any signs of being ill. I didn’t even know until a few weeks afterwards, when he got his results back. It was such a shock to him and everybody else, because it just wasn’t expected at all.”
Harris declined to discuss how the rest of MAIDEN coped with Dickinson’s diagnosis, telling the magazine: “It’s such a personal matter for Bruce and the band that I don’t think now is the time to talk about it. It’s Bruce’s story to tell when he feels the time is right. The one thing I can say is that Bruce is a trooper and more than ready for the next chapter of IRON MAIDEN. What matters now is that we’ve got an album coming out that I think our fans are going to love and we’re all excited to share with them.”