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Wilko struggles to accept he’s alive

Johnson is recovering from cancer surgery that saved his life - but says mentally adjusting is hardest part

Wilko Johnson has admitted he’s struggling to accept the fact he’s still alive.

The former Dr Feelgood guitarist was told in January 2013 that he was dying of cancer, and expected to have passed away by October last year.

But last month he confirmed he’d been cured after undergoing an experimental form of treatment in May, which resulted in the complete removal of a 3kg pancreatic tumour.

Now Johnson tells the BBC: “Steadily my health is recovering – I’m getting my strength and my weight back. The difficult thing is adjusting mentally.

“I’d dealt with this last year by absolutely accepting, never entertaining false hope, never pursuing any cures or anything. I thought, ‘I’m going to go and I’m going to make the most of what I’ve got left.’

“Then suddenly, bang! That’s all changed. It’s hard readjusting my mind to the fact I’m still here.”

Johnson teamed up with The Who singer Roger Daltrey for their album Going Back Home, which he thought would be his final project. “It was something we talked about a couple of years ago,” the guitarist recalls. “When Roger heard I’d got cancer he said, ‘We’ll do that record,’ and I said, ‘We better do it quick!’

“It was in November. I was just into extra time by then – I didn’t think I’d live to see the record released. Then right on top of that, the surgeons at Addenbrooke’s hospital decided they could have a go at the tumour, and they did.”

Going Back Home won Daltrey and Johnson the Album Of The Year award at the 2014 Classic Rock Roll Of Honour. Daltrey has said he hopes to make a follow-up.

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