Rita Wilson shared a special memory of Grammy-winning singer John Prine, the two-time cancer survivor who lost his battle to COVID-19 on April 7.
“John Prine invited me to perform at his ‘All the Best Fest’ last November. He and Fiona Prine put on an incredible festival filled with insanely great musicians and so much love from John’s loyal and devoted fans,” Wilson recalled on Instagram.Read More
“But, what really stood out was John and Fiona’s generosity of spirit for everyone,” she said. Wilson will join Prine fans tonight as “Picture Show: A Tribute Celebrating John Prine” premieres. Prine may be best known for his song, “Angel From Montgomery” made famous by Bonnie Raitt.
John Prine’s Two-Time Cancer Journey
Prine first noticed a lump on the right side of his neck in 1995. The following year, he mentioned it to a doctor, who waved off his concern. A year later, when Prine decided to have the painless lump removed, a standard pre-surgery biopsy revealed that the lump was a squamous cell carcinoma, according to a profile on the Oral Cancer Foundation website.
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@john_prine invited me to perform at his @allthebestfest last November. He and @fprine put on an incredible festival filled with insanely great musicians and so much love from John’s loyal and devoted fans. It was incredible to be included on the lineup of artists I admired all my life. But, what really stood out was John and Fiona’s generosity of spirit for everyone. June 11 Thursday, at 6:30 pm CT we honor John and his music. Swipe for details and link in the bio.
He underwent surgery in January of 1998 to remove the tumor, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. Doctors initially sought to shield Prine’s vocal chords from the radiation, but Prine would have none of it — his focus was on beating the cancer rather than preserving his voice.
“It’s been almost a year since the surgery and radiation and I’m feelin’ great,” Prine wrote to his fans. “I’m looking forward to getting back on the road and singing my songs. Hopefully, my neck is looking forward to its job of holding my head up above my shoulders.”
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Tonight, June 11th, is the premiere of “Picture Show: A Tribute Celebrating John Prine” at 7:30pm ET/6:30pm CT/4:30pm PT. The tribute will be streaming on John Prine’s official Facebook, Youtube, and Oh Boy Records’ Twitch channel. Produced by the Prine family and @ohboyrecords , the tribute will feature never before seen footage of John himself, family, and friends sharing memories and songs while raising money for several charitable organizations including @namicommunicate , @alivehospice, and @maketheroadny .
In November of 2013, Prine announced that he had an operable form of lung cancer, “non-small cell carcinoma.” His Nashville-based doctors caught it early: “They see no reason why I won’t fully recover,” he said.
Prine also underscored that the new diagnosis was unrelated to the cancer he’d beaten in 1997, when doctors discovered the growth on his neck.
Dr. Geoffrey Oxnard, Thoracic Oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute provides an overview of lung cancer types.
A year ago, in a display of his trademark kindness and humility, Prine posted a touching message to fellow cancer-survivor Alex Trebek: “Sorry to hear you are going through this Alex,” he wrote on Instagram.
“As a two-time cancer survivor, I want you to know that I’m rootin’ for you. I watch Jeopardy twice a day and I look forward to seeing you on there for many years to come. Against all odds you’re the big door prize. Your friend ( in Jeopardy) John Prine.”
Having lung cancer doesn’t necessarily mean that you are more susceptible to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Karen Reckamp, director of the Division of Medical Oncology at Cedars-Sinai, tells SurvivorNet.
After lung cancer surgery, Prine worked with a trainer to restore his lung capacity so he could return to performing. “Luckily, I had a friend who was a trainer,” he told Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. “When I told him I had to get the surgery, he volunteered to come to our house and help me get back in shape to get on the road. He had me running up and down our staircase three times.
Then he’d put a guitar around my neck, and I’d sing three songs without taking a breath,” Prine explained. “And this was all after losing half a lung. And that – I didn’t know I could train like that. My wife didn’t, either, because I hadn’t previously put that much into training before.”
Prine continued to perform, playing Bonaroo in 2019 and attending the Grammys in January, where Bonnie Raitt, who turned “Angel From Montgomery” into a hit, honored him for his Lifetime Achievement Award in songwriting.