The metal world was shocked when Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi announced he had lymphoma. A year and a half later, Iommi is cancer free, but not without a price. He has to regularly go in for check-ups and blood transfusions. Iommi described the arduous process he goes through to the Birmingham Mail. Here are highlights:
“I have to have an antibody administered by drip every six weeks or so to keep the lymphoma in check,” Iommi said. “It sort of coats the cancer cells, stops it from going anywhere else. I have to come back home no matter where I might be in the world. The tour dates are arranged so that I can always get back for treatment. It’s the only way I can manage my illness and keep on the road. I’d love to play more shows than we’re doing but my health has to be sorted out first.
“The infusions I have are part of the chemotherapy regime. It’s relatively new treatment and they don’t know what all the side-effects might be yet, but I wanted to try it. After each session I feel sick and tired, and that lasts for a week or so. I’m finding that it takes around 10 days to fully recover from each round of treatment, but if that’s what it takes, I have to accept it.
“In myself I’m feeling OK now. When I first found that I had the illness, it was a dark time and I was a bit spaced out. Since we’ve been in rehearsals and recording sessions, I’ve felt pretty good — great even. I think that the album and tour have given me something immediate to get my teeth into, something to accomplish.”
What else is intriguing is Iommi revealing that it was Ozzy Osbourne who convinced Iommi to go to the doctor when he was experiencing pain:
“Ozzy was the one who kept on at me to go to the doctors because he was concerned about me, and he has been very supportive since I was diagnosed. In fact, all the guys in the band have been great."
He went on to say the entire band was very supportive. Ozzy, who's been dealing with his own demons the last year and a half, famously said "if [Tony] dies, I'm going to kill him." Iommi was very candid in the interview, saying that when he first got the word, he was ready to call it a day:
“Cancer meant death to me. I started writing myself off. I would lie awake at night, thinking about selling this, getting rid of that, and preparing everything: who should speak at my funeral and where I’d want to be buried.
“But I also kept thinking ‘I’m not ready to go yet. I’ve got too much to do, and I like being here’.”
The entire interview is worth reading. Black Sabbath recently announced four North American tour dates as well as European dates all in anticipation of their new album, 13 out June 11th. The band's first single, "God Is Dead?" will premiere tomorrow.