Bruce Dickinson opens up on battling cancer and the future of Iron Maiden

"I had a golf ball growing in my tongue."

Bruce Dickinson has candidly opened up on his battle with cancer and whether he has pictured a point in the future when Iron Maiden will call it a day.

The heavy metal icon, 59, spoke to NME ahead of releasing new autobiography ‘What Does This Button Do?’, which sees the Iron Maiden frontman open up on his 2014 treatment for a golf ball sized lump on his tongue.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Dickinson admits that he immediately considered the possibility of dying.


“Frankly as soon as I was diagnosed [I considered it]”, he said.

“But it wasn’t in the forefront of my mind because I wasn’t dying at that moment. I felt basically perfectly well but I had, as it turns out, a golf ball growing in my tongue and another four golf balls growing in my lymph nodes.
At the time I was diagnosed until they sorted things out, my chances of survival were realistically 60/4, which is better than 50/50. But I wasn’t actively thinking about dying, I was thinking about living.”

He also opened up on how cancer treatment had affected his singing, admitting that his vocal chords were “cooked” after extensive radiotherapy sessions.


Bruce Dickinson has released his new autobiography

“Obviously the first thing you’re a bit paranoid about when you first start and it was pretty ropey at first in rehearsals because you know it wasn’t the voice so much it was the actual shape of my tongue and my throat and some of the muscles had probably been cooked a bit by the radiation”, he said.


“My voice was quite wobbly and weak at first but only in certain areas but ironically the really top notes were probably clearer than they were before, how strange is that?”

And with Iron Maiden still on the road after 40 years, Dickinson is looking ahead to the future, admitting that he’ll continue with the band for as long as his health permits him to.

“I don’t have a time frame on it. For as long as my body is doing it and for as long as people are turning up, and for as long as I don’t have to look at an audience that are as old as me I’m a happy bunny”, he said.

“What’s not to like?  Someone tells you you’re gonna die of tongue cancer and two years later I’m parking a 747 with Iron Maiden down the fucking side of it, and going to sing in front of 50,000 people.  If you can’t look up and say thank you god for that, not that I’m religious, if you can’t say I’m really grateful for somebody somewhere for letting me have the chance to do this, then you’re a pretty weird individual.”

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