In a recent interview with "Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon", DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell spoke about his continuing battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in 2013. "Well, I'm very lucky, but it's still ongoing for me," he said. "For the last two years, I've been doing a process called immunotherapy. It's part of a Phase II clinical trial. [I've been] taking this amazing new drug called pembrolizumab, which just recently got FDA approved for Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is the cancer I have. So, I literally just finished; I had my last infusion last week. And it's a great boon for cancer patients, because, for me personally, I'm one of the very fortunate twenty to thirty percent of the population that have a specific DNA marker — I think it's called PD-L1 — which means that my body actually responds to it. And I know it doesn't work for everyone, but my body responds to it with absolute minimal side effects and I'm able to continue my life and my work — which is a big, big part of the process for me, because if I were sidelined by the disease to where I couldn't work now, I know that it would kill me, because you are what you do and I've always been a musician and I always… That's part of the reason why I keep so busy with all these different projects."
He continued: "Music has always been my lifeblood. To be out there playing guitar, writing songs with great creative people and getting that feedback from an audience is what keeps me going. So I've been very fortunate with this, and, like I said, the drug was just, recently in March, FDA approved, so I'm gonna be able to continue to take it beyond the clinical trial and I get an infusion about once a month and life goes on and it's all good. So, in that regard, I am one of the lucky ones. But I only mention it because I do need to schedule time to do it. Over the last couple of years, I've flown from Singapore to L.A., from London to L.A., from New York to L.A. — I've flown from all over the world to go back to L.A. — to get an infusion, only to go straight from the hospital back to the airport to fly to rejoin the tour. So the most difficult aspect, I've gotta say, in all honesty, has been the scheduling — certainly not the side effects."
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.
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.