The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood was ready “to say goodbye” to his young family after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he revealed last night.
The 70-year-old rocker – who has been with the band since the mid-Seventies – told how the diagnosis, which he has kept secret until now, led to one the darkest period of his life.
The guitar-slinging star explained how he came to make the agonising decision not to have chemotherapy, revealing it his decision hinged on him not wanting to lose his trademark thick hair.
The father-of-six said: “I’ve had a fight with a touch of lung cancer. There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains, time to say goodbye.”
Ronnie – who quit smoking a week before his one-year-old twins Gracie and Alice were born – was diagnosed three months ago during a routine medical with the band’s doctor Richard Dawood.
On this occasion, Dawood asked Ron if he could “go deeper” and check the former Faces star’s heart, lungs and blood. ‘I said go for it,’ he recalled.
“And then he came back with the news that I had this supernova burning away on my left lung. And to be totally honest, I wasn’t surprised.
“I knew I hadn’t had a chest X-ray since I went into Cottonwood [a rehab clinic in Tucson, Arizona] in 2002.
“He asked me what I wanted to do and I said: ‘Just get it out of me.'”
The star’s third wife Sally, who is 31 years his junior, shared Ronnie’s agony as he waited for tests to see if the condition had spread.
With the Stones axeman saying: “If that had happened, it would have been all over for me. So there was this one week when I didn’t know what was happening.
“Sally was amazing. It’s only since we’ve got through it that she has been able to tell me how it was the worst seven days of her life.”
Ronnie said he was adamant that whatever happened, he wasn’t going to undergo chemotherapy.
“I was prepared for bad news but I also had faith it would be OK,” he explained. “Apart from the doctors, we didn’t tell anyone because we didn’t want to put anyone else through the hell we were going through.”
Adding: “But I made up my mind that if it had spread, I wasn’t going to go through chemo, I wasn’t going to use that bayonet in my body.
“It’s more I wasn’t going to lose my hair. This hair wasn’t going anywhere. A week later they came back with the news that it hadn’t spread and I said, ‘Let’s get it out now.'”
Just before I closed my eyes for the operation, I looked at the doctor and said, ‘Let battle commence.'”
Former Hellraiser Ronnie, who joined The Rolling Stones more than 40 years ago, admitted that given everything he has been through he has been “b****y lucky”.
He said: “I had this thought after I gave up smoking, how can I get through 50 years of chain-smoking, and all the rest of my bad habits, without something going on in there?”’
He added wryly: “Someone up there must like me.”