GWAR guitarist Michael Derks diagnosed with bone marrow cancer

The musician - who performs under the moniker BälSäc the Jaws ‘o Death - will still perform with the band on their North American tour

GWAR guitarist Michael Derks has been diagnosed with a rare form of bone marrow cancer.

Derks – who performs under the name BälSäc the Jaws ‘o Death in GWAR – joined the heavy metal band in 1988, and first recorded with GWAR on their second album ‘Scumdogs of the Universe’ in 1990.

Derks has now revealed his diagnosis with myelofibrosis, a rare form of bone marrow cancer. Posting a statement on his virtual donor drive, Derks said that he was admitted to hospital during the Warped Tour earlier this summer for “extreme fatigue and weakness”. After extensive testing, he was diagnosed with the disease.


Myelofibrosis, as Derks clarifies, is “a disease that causes scarring inside of the bones and interferes with the marrow’s ability to produce blood cells”, with doctors predicting that he’s “most likely to only survive another 3 to 5 years” without treatment.


The guitarist is hoping to get treatment for the disease through a procedure that utilises a bone marrow transplant, which he hopes to receive early next year.

Despite the diagnosis, Derks has confirmed that he will continue to play with GWAR on their ongoing North American tour. “I’ve decided to not let the impending hospitalisation keep me from doing what I enjoy most, performing with GWAR,” he said.

“I will be using labs across the country to monitor my blood over the next two months as we travel and will probably have to leave the tour at least once to come home for a transfusion, but as hard as the road can be, I look forward to the curative effect it can have on my soul.”