DEF LEPPARD's VIVIAN CAMPBELL On His Ongoing Cancer Battle: 'I Never Actually Thought It's Gonna Kill Me'
April 8, 2022
DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell says that he never thought he was going to die of Hodgkin's lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in 2013.
For the past seven years, Vivian has been treated with medication called pembrolizumab, which became FDA approved in early 2017, at City Of Hope — one of the world's leading cancer research facilities — in Los Angeles.
Campbell, who receives pembrolizumab infusions roughly once a month, spoke about his cancer battle during a recent interview with the "Let There Be Talk" podcast, hosted by rock and roll comedian Dean Delray. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Other than that first couple of weeks when you first learn you have cancer, and it's, like, 'Oh my God. Life's over,' other than that, I've kind of learned how to roll with it. And I didn't give it too much energy. I've never really obsessed; I never thought, 'Woe is me. I have cancer. It's gonna kill me.' I never actually thought it's gonna kill me. I'm stubborn and I'm Irish and I've always thought, 'Fuck you, cancer. You're not gonna get me.' So that's kind of the mindset I have. I never stopped working. I'm very thankful to my bandmates in LEPPARD that they allowed me to work… A couple of times, it was, like, 'I don't know if Viv's gonna be able to make the show tonight.' But we got away with it. Because I also take immense pride in my work, and the thought of bringing in someone else to sub for me never sits well with me because I always know that they'll never do anywhere near as good a job as I'm gonna do because I just have that work ethic and I wanna be perfect. Even though I'm never gonna be, but I wanna go with that mindset and try to attain that.
"But it's been good," he continued. "Because I think that focus to just keep working and not capitulate to the disease and not obsess about it, just kind of push it off to the side and just deal with it as you need to, I think that kind of helped me a lot."
Pembrolizumab is the same immunotherapy drug former president Jimmy Carter has been using to treat his metastatic melanoma.
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.
"I was part of a clinical trial for that for the first two years, taking pembrolizumab," Vivian told "Let There Be Talk". It's like a chemo — it's like 'chemo light.' You just go in the hospital, they test your blood, you consult with the oncologist and then they write up the drug orders and they give you an infusion that takes an hour or so. So it's really easy. And then the side effects are minimal — for me, at least. I mean, some people get more intense side effects, but I find that I'm pretty well suited to it. So, anyway, I've been doing that for a lot of years. It's time to start looking at other alternatives, 'cause it only lasts for so long. But there's plenty of options; there's a lot of new stuff coming down the pipeline every year. And in North America, we're very fortunate here to have some great doctors and great hospitals. And I've got a job, so I can afford health care. So I'm very fortunate. I don't brush that under the rug. I know there's a lot of people who are less fortunate than me in this world, so I'm very, very thankful to be in that position where I can afford to address the issue."
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.
Vivian underwent three separate spells of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, only for his Hodgkin's lymphoma to return.
Two and a half years ago, Campbell underwent spine surgery.
Vivian and his DEF LEPPARD bandmates were finally inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in March 2019 — 14 years after the British rockers first became eligible.
Earlier this week, DEF LEPPARD's new single, "Kick", landed at position No. 39 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. It's the British rockers' first appearance on the chart since March 2003.
"Kick" is the first single from DEF LEPPARD's upcoming album, "Diamond Star Halos", which will arrive on May 27 via UMe.
DEF LEPPARD's "The Stadium Tour" with MÖTLEY CRÜE, POISON and JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS was originally scheduled to take place in the summer of 2020 but ended up being pushed back to 2021, and then to 2022, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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