In a new interview with Niclas Müller-Hansen of RockSverige, EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting was asked if his battle with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the stomach has changed his view on life. He responded: "Well, I definitely don't sweat the small stuff anymore. It gives you a new perspective where that's concerned, I think. Things that used to stress me out, I'm just, like, Meh.' It's just stuff that's gonna happen to some of us. I'm lucky — very lucky — that they were able to take a bad situation and make it okay. I'm walking around, I'm eating, I'm breathing, I'm playing drums. I'm lucky and the science is amazing like what they're able to do. They've done a lot of tests and they can't find cancer inside me right now so that's a good thing. I might've dodged a couple of bullets there. [Laughs]"
The 56-year-old, who underwent a successful total gastrectomy in July 2021, said that there was a short period after the surgery when he couldn't play drums. "They wouldn't let me do anything for, like, five weeks," he said. "Then I started doing pushups. Before the surgery, I was getting chemo doses, like four of them, and they were pretty massive. I did play drums a little bit, but I wasn't feeling it that well. I thought I was gonna be in the throes of getting four more outro doses of chemo, but they're not doing them. They don't need to. Right now I'm getting immunotherapy which does not really have any side effects. Getting small doses of that once every three weeks, but I have no restrictions on playing or anything, basically. They said, 'Just resume your life. Celebrate and resume your life.' And that's kinda what I'm doing."
Last month, Hunting told the "Put Up Your Dukes" podcast that he wants to use his experience as a cancer survivor to interact with others who may be going through a similar situation.
"I'm not qualified now, but I think in a couple of more months, they deem me qualified to talk to other people about this disease, and I'm gonna do it," he said. "'Cause I want people to know about it and I want people to get checked. Just going public with it — I don't do social media, but what I read on the EXODUS [sites] was, like, 'Hey, I'm having gut problems too,' and, 'I'm gonna go get checked out now.' I hope people get the answers they're looking for."
"I'm not saying those drugs that they give you for your gut are bad. They get you by. But if you're having what you think is a gut problem, tell 'em you wanna get scoped. 'Cause some of those scans and some of those tests, they won't pick up what's going on inside there.
"Since I'm on this journey, dude, they're fucking scanning me constantly," Tom added. "'Cause they wanna see how I'm reacting to what they're doing too. So it's all part of the science and the evolution of the science. If they can help me live — and I love my life — and I can help them develop the science to help the next batch of people who you know are gonna get this shit, that's a win-win."
Hunting rejoined his EXODUS bandmates on stage in early October at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California.
EXODUS tapped John Tempesta to play drums for the band at Psycho Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada in August and at Full Terror Assault in Cave In Rock, Illinois in September while Hunting was recovering from surgery. Tempesta was a member of EXODUS from 1989 until 1993 and played on the band's albums "Impact Is Imminent" (1990) and "Force Of Habit" (1992).
A GoFundMe campaign to help Hunting with medical expenses had previously raised more than $114,000 — including $5,000 from Tom's former EXODUS bandmate, current METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett, and $1,500 from FOZZY singer and wrestling superstar Chris Jericho.
EXODUS released its new album, "Persona Non Grata", on November 19 via Nuclear Blast Records. The LP was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and was mixed by Andy Sneap. For the third time in the band's history, they returned to Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to create the album artwork.
"Persona Non Grata" is the follow-up to 2014's "Blood In Blood Out", which was the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers' first release since the departure of EXODUS's singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of Steve "Zetro" Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.