Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, 73, reveals he fought cancer for a second time during lockdown

ROLLING Stone Ronnie Wood has revealed he secretly battled cancer for a second time during lockdown.

The guitar legend, 73, was diagnosed with rare and aggressive small-cell cancer.

He got the all-clear — and says working on paintings of wife Sally, 43, and their twins, four, helped keep him strong.

He also believes being sober for a decade and putting his fate in the hands of a “higher power” helped him through his latest cancer fight.

The rock legend got the shocking news in lockdown that he had the small-cell variant of the disease.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the 73-year-old revealed: “I’ve had cancer two different ways now.

“I had lung cancer in 2017 and I had small-cell more recently that I fought in the last lockdown.”

Small-cell cancer commonly arises in the lung but can affect areas such as the prostate, pancreas, bladder or lymph nodes.

It is so-called as the cancerous cells appear as a different size and shape under a microscope.

It is typically fast-growing but happily Ronnie — dad to twins Gracie and Alice, four, with Sally — confirmed: “I came through with the all-clear.”


The idea of a “higher power” is a core belief of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Ronnie, a notorious hellraiser in the 1970s and ’80s who has had eight stints in rehab, says the concept was crucial during his second brush with the disease.

He added: “I’m going through a lot of problems now, but throughout my recovery, you have to let it go. And when you hand the outcome over to your higher power, that is a magic thing.

“That brings you back to the (AA and NA’s) Serenity Prayer: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change’. That’s incredible. What will be will be, it’s nothing to do with me.

“All I can do is stay positive in my attitude, be strong and fight it, and the rest is up to my higher power.”

Ronnie previously blamed his 2017 lung cancer diagnosis on smoking “25 to 30 cigarettes a day for 50-odd years” before quitting the habit in 2016.

At the time he dedicated “time to say goodbye” to his loved ones, saying: “There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains.”

The guitar idol needed a five-hour operation to have part of his lung removed before confirming he was cancer-free in 2018.

He said in his 2019 documentary Somebody Up There Likes Me: “They went, ‘Your lungs now are like you’d never smoked’ and I went, ‘How is that for a get out of jail free card?’”

His journey to sobriety was helped along by his love of painting — which he also credits for keeping him strong in his lockdown cancer battle.

The star staged an exhibition of his work last August and is now releasing limited-edition signed prints of his piece “Affirmation I” bearing the words: “When I take care of myself I can achieve anything.”

The work, inspired by an important part of his personal recovery, is going on sale today to raise money for Turn Up For Recovery, an abstinence-based charitable movement founded by guitar legend Eric Clapton’s wife Melia McEnery, 45, that supports the Layla musician’s Crossroads Treatment Centre in Antigua.

Ronnie explained: “That affirmation came to me in aftercare in a rehab. A female counsellor who really helped me told me to state what you would love as your mantra.

"‘Keep it positive’. ‘When I take care of myself, I can achieve anything’ says so much and it’s true. That is something I can live by.”

Melia said: “I’m so moved by Ronnie’s kindness in bringing awareness to our cause and raising funds to help provide treatment for those in need. A massive thank you Ronnie for sharing these prints with Turn Up For Recovery and Crossroads Treatment Centre.

“I’m grateful to you for creating a powerful message with your gift of painting, they will be part of a positive change in many people’s lives. It’s inspiring to find someone that struggled with addiction who is willing to spread hope to others still suffering…a true blessing.”  

‘When I take care of myself, I can achieve anything’ says so much and it’s true. That is something I can live by.

Sally, his theatre producer wife of eight years, and their twins have featured among his subjects for portraits.

Ronnie said: “Art therapy was self-imposed in a way, especially in lockdown. The art has got me through it — to express and get lost. I’ve done so much work.

“I use my photographic memory more when it comes to painting the twins.

“I’d be painting them all the time if I could, but it’s amazing to be with them and just observe, soak it in that way.

“The twins are such a blessing. Gracie is like my mum reincarnated, her nature, her figure, the way she sits and handles herself. She lets Alice run and do all the athletic stuff, and Grace just sits there and observes the situation.”

Ronnie said of how he finally found the strength to give up drugs and drink in 2009: “It only clicked when I did it for me and not other people.


Star sells art prints for charity of pal Eric

By Daniel Sperling

LIMITED-edition prints of one of Ronnie Wood’s most personal pieces of art are going on sale in support of pal Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Treatment Centre.

He will release 500 prints of Affirmation I which bears the words “When I Take Care of Myself I Can Achieve Anything”.

They will be available from 5pm at store.digitalstores.co.uk/ronniewood.

Half of the £399 price will go to Turn Up For Recovery, a charity set up by “Slowhand” Eric’s wife Melia, and Crossroads.

Ronnie said: “I wanted to create this print in support for Turn Up For Recovery to highlight the incredible work they do.”

“Before I just did it because people said, ‘You should’. I’d prove I could, then have another drink.

“I suppose even in my drug- fuelled states, I was still looking at the bigger picture that one day I would be out of this. One day there was a brightness on the horizon that I could get through this.”

Ronnie told The Sun that he and the other Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, both 77, and Charlie Watts, 79 — are “ready to go” with the rest of their No Filter Tour, which began in autumn 2017, once Covid restrictions are lifted.

And he said he won’t be held back by age, sobriety or illness.

He added: “I’m just as busy as ever but nowadays I can remember what I’m doing. The music is still throbbing away.

“I’ve got a new album recorded at the Royal Albert Hall with Mick Taylor and my band — a tribute to (American blues musician) Jimmy Reed called Mr Luck.

“I used to never stop. It must have been relentless to be around me, just crazy the stuff I did.

“I was erratic but none of my enthusiasm has gone.


Dangers of fast spread

By Carol Cooper, Sun Doctor

THE prospect for Ronnie’s latest type of cancer depends a lot on where it is and if it has spread.

Small-cell cancers can grow in the lung, as well as the prostate, bladder, gullet and pancreas.

Women can get them in the ovary or cervix.

They tend to be aggressive and spread rapidly unless treated.

Chemotherapy is usually the main treatment, but radiotherapy and immunotherapy are often used too. It’s tailored to the individual patient and their cancer.

“I’m still nuts, still up all night. My energy comes after midnight.” After finally getting clean and beating cancer once again, Ronnie said he feels he has been given “a second chance”.

He said: “I am grateful every day for the continuance of this positive attitude. Everybody gets to fight in their own way, live their lives and survive.”

  • Affirmation I is available to buy from 5pm today via store.digitalstores.co.uk/ronniewood.

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