During an appearance on the latest episode of Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke about his decision to go public with his battle with prostate cancer. Asked if it is correct to say that he is currently in remission, meaning that cancer is responding to treatment or is under control, Halford said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Yes, I am.” He then added: “Guys and girls, you’ve gotta look after yourself. You’ve gotta keep this temple, you’ve gotta keep the heavy metal temple clean and ready to deal with whatever comes your way. And one of them, for me, was my prostate cancer issue.
“Let me quickly tell you: I should have listened to my doctors, because my doctors were saying, ‘Hey, this PSA [prostate-specific antigen] level is a bit high.’ [And I said,] ‘I’ve gotta do a tour. I’ll do it when I come back,'” he continued. “So I missed a couple of opportunities whereby if I had had the treatment earlier, the treatment wouldn’t have been as difficult as it was. But, hey, we got through it. I had a wonderful team of medical people that looked after me in Phoenix [Arizona, where I live].
“It happened while we were in the full-on pandemic,” Halford explained. “So I was in the valley having the prostate removed and then [laughs] two weeks of the catheter, and then [laughs], of course, a little bit of radiation, a couple of months of radiation. But I came through it [thanks to] these beautiful, incredibly talented people. And I’m in remission. But I will throw this out — guys, get your blood test done, get the checks done. We’re going through colorectal cancer month right now [in March]. So please look after yourselves. It’s so important. Onward and upward.”
Rob also talked about his decision to mention his cancer battle in the new chapter added to the updated paperback edition of “Confess”.
“I think it was important [to talk about it], because for everybody it’s incredibly scary,” he said. “The first thing my guy doctor told me, he goes, ‘You’ve got cancer. I’m gonna take your prostate out. Come with me to this other room.’ And my world starts really… ‘Oh my god. I’ve got cancer…’ I think that’s a very natural reaction. And he goes, ‘Have you got a question?’ I go, ‘Am I going to die?’ He goes, ‘No, you’re not going to die. I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna do this.’ They’re so positive and they’re so reinforcing yourself through those early few days of understanding your condition.
“And I’ll tell you something, as I said in the book, I felt so terribly selfish, because [I thought], ‘Oh God, I’ve got cancer. I’ve got cancer.’ And then I see these commercials for Phoenix children’s hospital and these little kids — little kids — with cancer fighting for their lives. And I go, ‘For God’s sake, you got so far in your life and you’ve got this to deal with and you’ve got the most incredibly talented people to look after you and make you well.’
“So it was a readjustment for me,” Rob said. “I was really, really ashamed of myself to have that kind of perspective. But I pushed through that, and then I just got on with the job that needed to be done. And yeah, we went into gory and amusing details in that edition of ‘Confess’.”
Halford went on to say that cancer treatment has improved dramatically in recent years and that fewer patients die of cancer than ever before.
“As a younger person, the ‘C’ word [cancer], as it used to be called, for a lot of people, the outcome was gonna be remarkably different to where we are today,” he said. “It’s just fantastic, the way that the improvements and the way that people are treated now. It’s given everybody many, many greater chances of living long, healthy lives. And so we should all be grateful for that.”
In “Confess”, Halford revealed that he was diagnosed with cancer after experiencing symptoms for at least a couple of years.
In July 2020, Rob underwent prostatectomy, an operation where the entire prostate gland is removed plus some of the tissue around it, including the seminal vesicles. After more cancer was found last year, he went through radiation treatments in April and May 2021 and eventually got then all-clear in June 2021. He also had an appendectomy after a tumor was discovered on his appendix.
“It’s been a draining year, I can’t deny it, but I’m delighted to have come through it,” Halford wrote in the book. “I feel like I’ve had the most thorough MOT that a Metal God can have.”
Halford‘s cancer battle is one of a number of health scares the members of PRIEST have had to deal with in recent years. Last September, guitarist Richie Faulkner suffered an acute cardiac aortic dissection during the band’s performance at the Louder Than Life festival. Faulkner was rushed to the UofL Health – Jewish Hospital where the cardiothoracic surgery team needed approximately 10 hours to complete a life-saving surgery.
PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of the band’s latest album, “Firepower”. He was replaced by “Firepower” producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.
“Confess” was released in September 2020 via Hachette Books. It was written with Ian Gittins, co-writer of “The Heroin Diaries” by Nikki Sixx.