McCartney tells of Linda's cancer battle

Sir Paul McCartney, whose wife, Linda, is recovering from a two- year battle with cancer, told how the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous helped them cope. In an interview with Sir David Frost, Sir Paul described how the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease "focuses you on the things you think are important in life" and "stops you messing around." That was "about the only good thing you can say about it."

Asked whether the experience had changed his feeling towards " `It' or God", Sir Paul said: "I think so, although I don't like `change your feelings'. It makes you talk to `It' or God a little more often, which is a good thing." He and Linda found strength from the 12-steps programme issued to Alcoholics Anonymous members, sent to them by a friend. A step saying people should "hand over" their fears and anxieties when they cannot cope, had been particularly useful.

"I think unless you are very religious, you live your life thinking there is no one to hand it over to. I think it was a blessing for us to find, again through this 12-step programme a friend sent us." He and the other Beatles had made a pact that whoever died first would send back a message if there was an afterlife. So far there had been no word. "Stuart Sutcliffe was the first to die and I didn't have a message. When John (Lennon) died, he knew the deal, but I never had a message from him."

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