Dave Mustaine on Cancer Battle: ‘I Never Settle for Anything But Complete Success’
There are many things to be thankful for this holiday season, and for Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, he can count the support he's received since his cancer diagnosis earlier this year among them. And, as we approach Thanksgiving, Mustaine also tells Rolling Stone that while he's not yet in remission, things are moving in the right direction.
“I’m on the other side of the majority of the treatment, and I feel really strong,” the vocalist explained. “After the radiation, the guy said all of my test results looked amazing. ‘You look like you’re in a stage 1 and you’re supposed to be in stage 3 right now.’ And then the oncologist said the same thing: ‘You look really strong.’ So we kept moving through the process.”
The singer revealed that he was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma on the base of his tongue. "It’s a tumor that you get in your mouth, and it had gone from one side of my mouth, and it had also gone to two lymph nodes. So it was pretty serious," says the frontman.
After hearing the news, Mustaine says he leaned on some of the discipline he had learned from martial arts to help in his approach. "I thought, 'OK, Mustaine. You can do this,' and we commenced kicking this thing’s ass. I thought about every single trick that I had learned about healing my body and the things I’d learned from martial arts, and I did everything that the doctor said to a T, and hopefully this is the end of it and I never hear of it again. But I feel great."
He added, "I take good care of myself, and I don’t know how anybody can expect any other outcome than this, knowing me. I never settle for anything but complete success or, in this case, victory."
As for the support he's received, Mustaine says he's thankful to his fans and peers for the outpouring of love he's received. He also revealed, "I got a text message back from my old brother, James Hetfield, and I was so, so happy to hear from him. Contrary to what anybody says and contrary to any of the act that we put on, I love James and I know that James loves me and cares about me. You can see that when the moment of truth is here and I’m telling the world that I’ve got a life-threatening disease. Who comes to stand next to me? James."
As for the fans, he added, "The encouragement, especially from your fans, was overwhelming. I am so extremely grateful, and I don’t know how to ever really make it up to everybody helping me get through this. I would love to say, 'Everybody who sent me a tweet, come to a free concert.' But that just seems so trivial. I would love to tell them face-to-face, 'Thank you. I love you. You helped me get through this,' and give them a hug. But even that, too, just seem so short and insensitive. I honestly want to say, “Come here. Sit down. Put your pajamas on. Let’s watch TV for a little while, and I’ll tell you all about it.'"
As for his musical future, Mustaine says he's spoken with Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson about his recovery process from a cancerous tumor and has taken his advice. "I care so much about Bruce; he was another really supportive brother to me during this whole thing," says Mustaine. "He explained to me how he did it, and it really helped. I’m just looking forward to if there’s ever a circumstance where this happens to another one of my peers, I can return the favor and help them. It’s a tricky disease, but they’ve got doctors all over the place that are figuring this shit out."
As Mustaine's recovery continues, he's got a target date to return to performing. At present, Megadeth is scheduled to return to the stage on Jan. 20 in Helsinki, Finland. See all of the band's scheduled touring listed here.
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