Doctors found a cancerous lesion during a routine medical check-up in May for the upcoming Stones September European tour, he told DailyMail. “There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains, time to say goodbye,” he said.
Although Wood quit smoking a week before his now 1-year-old twins were born, he had been skeptical about his 50-year history of chain-smoking and encouraged his doctor to check his heart, lungs, and blood.
“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,” he said. “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 my answer was simple: “Just get it out of me.”
Though cancer hadn’t spread to his lymph nodes, he still had an operation to remove part of his lung.
“I was prepared for bad news but I also had faith it would be OK,” he said. “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. 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.”
Wood opted out of undergoing chemotherapy, but he remained optimistic his treatment would work. “It’s more I wasn’t going to lose my hair,” he said. “This hair wasn’t going anywhere. I said, ‘No way.’ And I just kept the faith it would be all right. 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.'”
Wood encouraged others to get screened. “I’m OK now. But I’m going to have a check-up every three months,” he added. “They caught it early. People have to get checked. Seriously have to get checked. I was bloody lucky but then I’ve always had a very strong guardian angel looking out for me. By rights I shouldn’t be here.”