In June of 2007, Pogues guitarist Philip Chevron was unexpectedly diagnosed with a strand of locally advanced throat cancer, but earlier this year he announced that his doctors declared him “disease-free.” Although he has yet to return to join the Pogues onstage, Chevron has overseen the production and upcoming release of the band’s box set due out in April and is working hard to rejoin the band later this year. Below is the letter Chevron published on the band's website to update and thank the fans who have supported him throughout his battle with cancer.
Many of you - most of you - will have received the whingeing mass mail outs I sent out twice last year to y'all, when I was struck down with cancer of the throat and neck and in no position to keep in touch with you all individually. As I made no bones about the fact then that the treatment - 7 doses of Chemotherapy and 35 of Radiotherapy - was a living hell of sorts, I will not attempt to disguise my joy that I have recently been declared "disease-free". There are follow-up biopsies in progress to assess risks in other parts of my body, and I have yet to fully reclaim the art of swallowing and eating, and I do still get tired easily but, in the overall context, this has to be considered very good news.
I never did actually make it to the full Seven Chemos. After the Sixth, I lost 90% of hearing in my left ear (the right ear is already, of course, deaf, as most of you know), at which point, the Chemo was abruptly withdrawn. "New thinking in the USA", my oncologist's registrar explained, " indicates that Five Chemo sessions are sufficient for your condition." Gee, thanks, Doc! Deafen me first, why dontcha? About the worst thing that can happen to a Musician is to lose his or her hearing and this development was devastating. Nobody offered me any hope whatsoever that my hearing would return, least of all the Oncology Team and its attendant Eye Nose Ear Throat specialists. I underwent intensive audiology tests in both Dublin and Nottingham and in both cases was told to put recovery out of my mind. And so it was, after a month of exceptional unhappiness, I spent 4000 Euros (£3000/$6000) on a state-of-the-art Digital Hearing Aid and embarked upon a period in which I struggled to lead as regular a life as the twin handicaps of deafness and the after-effects of Chemo and Radio therapies allowed.
But one day, about three months in, just as I was beginning to accept that the rest of my life as a musician, as a man, would be compromised by this, and started in on the inspirational Evelyn Glennie autobiography, the hearing just returned. Gradually at first, and then almost fully, which is where it has stayed ever since. None of my doctors sought the reason for this reversal and neither, to be honest, did I. We were all so relieved that we just didn't bother looking the gift horse in the mouth.
And so, thanks in great part to the TLC ministrations of my dear mother, who is still supervising my convalescence back home in Dublin, I have been slowly but certainly coming out of the fog. Although I have not worked with either The Pogues or The Radiators From Space since March 2007, I did actually manage to put together a 5-CD Pogues box set (rarities, demos, outtakes, that kinda thing) which will be released in April and which, I am convinced, is the hardest work I ever did with The Pogues and I also oversaw the release in Europe/UK of the Radiators' third album Trouble Pilgrim which, I now realise, I had somehow managed to make (in 2006) when I was already sick. Now, as 2008 kicks off, I am determined to work again with both bands this year. In addition, I have had at least two serious theatrical/musical commissions which I am very much looking forward to.
You folks have been universally kind and helpful and understanding all this time and I love you for it. I will always remember the support, moral and prac