By Keith Sharp
Think of people who multi-task. And then think of Bruce Dickinson.
Known primarily as the lead vocalist and contributing songwriter for legendary British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, the Worksop England native is active in so many other areas. Dickinson’s latest endeavour, his autobiographical book, “What Does This Button Do” (Dey Street publishers) colourfully chronicles all of his many achievements.
As leader of Sheffield-based hard rock band, Samson, Dickinson replaced original Maiden lead vocalist Paul Di’Anno following an appearance by both bands at the 1981 Reading Music Festival. He would go on to establish himself as front man for a band which has forged a phenomenal global following. But there is so much more to Dickinson than just this one achievement.
Some celebrities dabble in recreational sports. Dickinson is an elite Olympic class fencer. Some people take flying lessons. Dickinson is an established airline captain who flies commercial 747 airliners and has even piloted Iron Maiden around the world aboard Ed Force One on a number of occasions.
Add to this, author of a series of well-received novels, (The adventures of Iffy Boatrace trilogy), a successful solo recording artist, movie screenwriter, motivational speaker, radio presenter and even beer brewer (he co-developed Trooper Beer with Robinson’s Brewery of Stockport England). Activities which have been captured in the pages of an autobiography that is a must read for any music fan.
But there is one chapter in the book which has struck a personal note with yours truly. In the book’s final chapter, titled “Fuck Cancer”, Dickinson graphically details his personal battle with throat and neck cancer which he discovered as he completed the recording of Maiden’s `Empire Of Clouds’ album in late November 2014.
Shortly after I read his book, I too discovered I have been diagnosed with the same throat and neck cancer disorder. So as I began undergoing the barrage of CAT Scans, MRI’s, Biopsy’s and blood work which prepares me for nine weeks of gruelling chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I have found solace in going back to Bruce’s book to discover just how well he dealt with his own affliction, what reactions I can expect to encounter and how I can take comfort in the fact that he successfully overcame the adversities of a painfully sore throat, drowsiness, inability to swallow solid foods and a number of other side effects, to emerge five months later with a clean bill of health.
I have been told that all symptoms are not the same and that my reaction to the chemo and radiation might be different than what is detailed in Dickinson’s book. But considering we both have been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and I am scheduled to face the same cisplatin chemotherapy drugs that Dickinson endured, there is a lot of valuable information I have gleaned from his descriptive prose of how he battled the adverse effects of this dreaded disease.
Having witnessed Dickinson in full voice during Maiden’s April 2017 stop at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, he has obviously made a full recovery and by his own admission, is singing stronger than ever – so what’s to worry!
To steal a quote from the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail to summarize my own health prognosis, “No worries, it’s only a flesh wound”.
Earlier Keith received this email from Ron Smallwood…
Sent: April 16, 2018 4:28 AM
Cc: Mary Henry
Subject: BRUCE review
A bit of a shock reading the review. Very sorry to hear this. But Yes he is an inspiration the way he dealt with cancer and hope it helps to give you confidence and you have as full a recovery as Bruce. I am sure you will. Your luck is in with Man C champions. So go beat it and let me know how it goes.
Wishing you all the best from bruce and I.
Sent from my iPhone