DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell recently spoke to Chronicle Live about his continuing battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma, with which he was diagnosed in 2013. "It's ongoing," he said. "I'm very fortunate insofar as three and a half years ago I came across some new clinical research linked to a trial. I really didn't want to go down the radiotherapy road for a variety of reasons. I'd been through the rigors of chemo and it was hardcore.
"There were times when it was extremely difficult to get on stage and do a gig," he admitted. "But for the most part I was thankful that I could still work. Then I discovered the trial. It was primarily aimed at patients who'd relapsed and after a week or two I found out that I was eligible to take part. Fast forward to 2018 and the drug used in the trial has become legally available across the board.
"From my point of view, it's controlling the cancer. The cancer is still there, but I can manage it. For some reason, the side effects that I've experienced are minimal and my doctors are happy for me to continue down this road. The most difficult part is scheduling the infusions and fitting them around my touring commitments."
For the past three years, Campbell has been treated with medication called pembrolizumab, which has only recently been FDA approved.
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.
Campbell underwent three separate spells of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, only for his Hodgkin's lymphoma to return.