DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell admitted to Music Life Magazine in a new interview that his biggest worry, after he was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2013, was his appearance, knowing that chemotherapy would mean the loss of his hair.
“I actually ordered a wig, because my first thought was, ‘I don’t want people to know I have this,’ and, ‘I am going to do chemo and my hair is going to fall out.’ There’s no way I can go onstage bald. I was afraid, you know, so I spent $2,000 having a custom wig made and I wore it for ten minutes and have never worn it since. It’s in my closet somewhere, and it’s pretty creepy looking.”
He continued: “Aside from the fact that it was physically uncomfortable, more significantly it was mentally uncomfortable. I started wondering, ‘When do I take it off? Do I take it off in the airport, in the hotel? Where do I become the real me?’ And that realization took ten minutes, and I realized the real me is not going to wear this wig. I am just going to go public with my diagnosis.”
Campbell added: “And I am so glad that I did. It was so cathartic for me and it turns out for a lot of other people too, to be able to talk openly about cancer. I couldn’t imagine having to go through all that I did wearing a wig and trying to hide and pretend that I wasn’t sick. It seemed so disingenuous. And if you think about it, if you’re denying it on a physical-appearance level, you are denying it on some other levels too, and that can’t be good for your recovery. And, honestly, I don’t look upon it as one big bad experience. I have learned a lot of very, very important life lessons. It’s really made me much more comfortable with who I am.”
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, recently 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.