Posts Tagged “Cancer Survivor”

“You have cancer.” Those three words are among the most dreaded and powerful a person can hear. In the case of Tony Harnell, the diagnosis of thyroid cancer was doubly frightening.

A vocalist/songwriter with a four-octave range, Harnell had toured in the U.S. with likes of STRYPER, TWISTED SISTER and GREAT WHITE and appeared on stages worldwide, entertaining legions of fans as lead singer with hard-rock band TNT.

But with the diagnosis, he not only faced a delicate surgery to remove two large, cancerous thyroid tumors from deep within his neck, but also the very real possibility that the life-saving procedure could cost him his voice.

Harnell thought he detected a small growth in his neck in 2001 and ignored it on a doctor’s advice until four years later when, while on tour, he started experiencing pain that intensified whenever he sang. His discomfort continued, but he powered through it for several years until a new physician recommended an ultrasound study and a biopsy based on the ultrasound. Then the unsettling news: he had Papillary Carcinoma, the most common type of thyroid cancer, representing about 80 percent of all thyroid cancers diagnosed in the U.S.

Harnell is only one among many: thyroid cancer diagnoses have more than doubled since 1990, one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence rates in recent years. The good news is that thyroid cancer is an extremely treatable disease when caught in its early stages — which is why screenings and self “neck-checks” are vitally important. Also key to a positive outcome is having an expert thyroid surgeon perform the procedure.

Harnell underwent surgery to remove the tumors and affected lymph nodes, radioactive iodine treatment to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue, and was placed on thyroid hormone replacement medication to keep his body’s metabolism balanced. Because of his occupation and the extensive surgery performed, he also elected to undergo physical therapy to rehabilitate his vocal cords and other muscles affected by the surgery. Harnell made it through his experience with his voice intact and is back to hitting all the high notes in his career.

To assist those who are interested in how to perform a self “neck-check” or more information on thyroid cancer or other thyroid-related conditions, AACE has created a dedicated web site:

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Paladino’s in Reseda, California will host a benefit show this Friday, August 16 for drummer Dave Brown (ex-SOUND BARRIER, MASI, TOTAL ECLIPSE) who is battling cancer. Scheduled to appear are ARMORED SAINT, DC4 (featuring Jeff Duncan of ARMORED SAINT and ODIN and Rowan Robertson, formerly of DIO), and Roy Z (BRUCE DICKINSON, HALFORD, TRIBE OF GYPSIES) and friends. L.A. scene luminaries such as Bernie K. (SOUND BARRIER, MASI, TOTAL ECLIPSE), Brian O’Neal (THE BUSBOYS), Joe Floyd (WARRIOR), Mandy Lion (WWIII, GEORGE LYNCH), Ann Boleyn (HELLION), Betsy Weiss (BITCH), and Rik Fox (STEELER, SIN) are set to take part in an all-star jam. DJ Will of and “That Metal Show” will MC the event. Boleyn confirmed that she will perform two songs that HELLION has not performed in decades. Boleyn has sung publicly only once since 2010.

Dave “Skavido” Brown is best known for his work with SOUND BARRIER, the first-ever heavy metal band featuring all African-American members to score a major label record deal. The band’s debut album, “Total Control”, was issued in 1983 by MCA Records; two more independent releases, “Born to Rock” (1984) and “Speed Of Light” (1986), followed before SOUND BARRIER morphed into MASI with the addition of Italian guitarist Alex Masi. Brown recorded the album “Fire in the Rain” (1987) with the group before teaming up with SOUND BARRIER/MASI vocalist Bernie K. and former THE BUSBOYS members Vic Johnson (SAMMY HAGAR’S WABORITAS) and Andre “Dre” Barry in TOTAL ECLIPSE whose one and only album surfaced in 1992 via A&M/Tabu Records.

The late Ronnie James Dio, who discovered and mentored Boleyn‘s band HELLION, died in May of 2010, due to stomach cancer.

Boleyn has supported numerous cancer charities, including the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund and the T.J. Martell Foundation.

Boleyn explains: “My mother is a cancer survivor and I have lost a numbers of close friends due to cancer.”

She adds: “Many metal musicians and fans have fond memories of SOUND BARRIER and of Dave. In the early ’80s, metal bands that did not conform to stereotypes were subjected to racial discrimination, and most often, were simply dismissed by the labels and radio.”

Members of SOUND BARRIER later went on to perform with bands like FISHBONE and MOTHER’S FINEST.

Boleyn adds: “Hard rock bands like LIVING COLOUR that came late in the decade were rare exceptions. Being based in New York, they had a much better chance than they would have here.”

“It’s an irony,” Boleyn points out, “because the greatest guitar player in the history of rock was arguably Jimi Hendrix.” The problem with racism being a detriment to the career of black rock musicians became so blatant during that time, that the Black Rock Coalition was founded in 1985 by Vernon Reid (LIVING COLOUR), Village Voice journalist Greg Tate, EYE & I singer Dk Dyson, and producer Konda Mason.

“All of us know someone that has been affected by cancer, and those of us in the metal and hard rock community should support and honor those with cancer, and those that have passed from it,” comments Boleyn.

Organizers are requesting a donation of $15.00 as the entrance fee. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.


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Hard rock guitarist Brent Muscat might be best known as the founding guitarist for Hollywood legends FASTER PUSSYCAT or for tearing up the Las Vegas scene with his band SIN CITY SINNERS, but Brent is also a cancer survivor.

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Brent Muscat may be best known as the founding guitarist for Hollywood legends Faster Pussycat, but Brent is also a Cancer survivor.

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The Beatles drummer made a wish come true when he met a cancer survivor at the Hard Rock Cafe – before giving him his drum kit to keep.

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