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Wilko Johnson, diagnosed with terminal cancer, undergoes pioneering operation which could save his life


Adam Sherwin
Wednesday 30 April 2014 16:23 BST

Guitarist Wilko Johnson, who was told he had 10 months to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has undergone a pioneering major operation which it is hoped could save his life.

Johnson, 66, has pulled out of Glastonbury Festival and other live shows as a result of the operation.

He has previously refused to undergo chemotherapy, but despite his ongoing illness he has continued to perform and record. The musician recently had a top three album, "Going Back Home", a collaboration with The Who’s Roger Daltrey.

However it had become apparent in recent months that the cancer was not as aggressive as first thought, but without intervention he would still have died.

After seeking further advice, Johnson has undergone a complex operation, performed at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

The procedure involves the removal of the tumour with his pancreas, spleen, a section of his stomach and intestines and some of the blood vessels to his liver.

In an interview with GQ before he went in for the procedure, he said: “There is a small chance of dying, but that's nothing. Because for over a year I have been living with a 100 per cent chance of dying.”

He said he was still coming to terms with the fact his life could be saved: “It’s unreal to me. I'm going to have to readjust my mind as well as my body.”

A spokesman for Johnson said: “Doctors are hopeful that following the surgery the prognosis for Wilko will be positive.” The star, who found fame with Dr Feelgood, is going to be “out of action for the foreseeable future”, according to a statement issued on his behalf.

Johnson made a public appearance at the Music Week Awards in London last week to support Daltrey who was receiving an award for his charity work for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

In addition to his Glastonbury show, Johnson is cancelling his Reading/Leeds Festival shows as well as other UK and European dates.

The musician, who has also appeared in television hit Game Of Thrones, has talked of having a sense of “euphoria” after being given his diagnosis, feeling a new joy for life.

Just last November, Johnson told The Independent: “I'm supposed to be dead now. When I was diagnosed they gave me 10 months. But they can't cure this thing so the illness will take its inexorable toll. I have gone past their deadline but it is ultimately going to kill me. So I want to get as much done now as I can.”

Johnson said then that he had refused chemotherapy treatment so that he would have the strength to complete a "farewell tour" this spring, where he basked in the adoration of fans.

He joked that his farewell tour could get "embarrassing" if it extended into another year.

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