Published Nov 24, 2021
Singer and survivor Rod Stewart reveals that his brief battle with thyroid cancer almost robbed him of his voice.
The smooth serenader gave a rare interview about being diagnosed with the disease 30 years ago while appearing on Loose Women, expressing the fear he felt when he woke up one morning to discover that he “couldn’t sing a note.”
Stewart did regain his voice and beat thyroid cancer. He also beat a second diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2017, which is why at 76-years-young he is out promoting his 32nd studio album, The Tears of Hercules.
The troublemaking troboudor played down his thyroid cancer battle at the start of the interview, saying: “I had a touch of thyroid cancer; it was over and out within 10 minutes.”
Stewart then explained to the hosts, which on that day included his wife Penny Lancaster, that he did not “want to pretend I fought cancer for months and months” because, in his case, “it was really easy to get rid of.”
He did not elaborate on that or share how advanced the cancer had been at the time or the treatment he received, though he strongly suggested that he only needed a single surgery.
“They chop right through your throat. All the muscles are torn apart,” Stewart says of the procedure.
That procedure, known as a thyroidectomy, removes the cancerous tumor through an incision made in the lower part of the neck. In addition to thyroid glands, the surgeon might also remove lymph nodes if there has been any spread.
Many patients only need surgery because thyroid cancer grows at a much slower rate than other forms of the disease.
The surgery was not a success, though, in Stewart’s mind at first.
The treatment did rid him of the cancerous cells in his body, but at the same time, it also took his voice.
“It had totally gone,” recalls Stewart. “It was scary because I couldn’t sing a note.”
It took some time and muscle memory, but Stewart’s legendary voice eventually came back and quickly got put to use.
Stewart had a much more difficult time battling prostate cancer, though he managed to win that fight as well.
It took him three years from his diagnosis in 2016 to be declared cancer-free, and much like his battle with thyroid cancer, he did not share the news until after he finished treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society, thyroid cancer can show up via any of these symptoms:
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor without delay.
Stewart is not the only celebrity to keep their thyroid cancer battle private.
Sofia Vergara made a similar decision, explaining that she wanted to stay focused on healing and not constant press coverage during an already taxing cancer battle.
And like Stewart, Vergara also had concerns about the possible side effects of the surgery.
Thyroidectomnies are safe, but a slight error by the doctor could result in a significant change or even the loss of a person’s voice.
This rarely happens, but for celebrities whose voices are their living, like actors and singers, it makes the incredibly safe procedure seem more of a risk.
Lucky for both Vergara and Stewart, they got rid of the cancer and kept their voices.