Elvis Costello is refuting media reports that he’s in remission after battling cancer and says he’s so “furious” about it that he’ll “punch the next person” who claims he’s recovering from the disease.
“I’m not going to critique other writers, because I had a very nice conversation with a young man the other day, and 99.9 per cent of the article he wrote was really interesting,” Costello tells the Daily Beast, “but he used the word ‘remission’ to describe my health and therefore his editor decided to put cancer in the headline.”
Earlier this year, the “Pump It Up” singer cancelled six European tour dates, writing on his website that his doctor advised him to address “a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy that could be defeated by a single surgery.”
However, the 64-year-old rocker insists that doesn’t mean he was fighting cancer. “I’m not in remission because I didn’t have cancer. How could I be in remission?” he says. “I was relieved of something that may have caused cancer. So out of respect to my friends who recently have lost that particular fight, and to those that continue to have it, of which I have rather too many, I’d rather everyone get the words right.”
Costello returned to his tour after undergoing surgery but explains the reason behind his cancelled dates was that he didn’t give himself enough time to recover.
“I went out on the road too soon. We’d played some sensational shows but then one night I lost all my power in the middle of the show. I thought, This isn’t right. It’s not right for the band. And the audience isn’t getting what I want to give them. I just need more time to get my strength back, that’s all. I then gave a statement because I didn’t want to make it seem like I was just irresponsible. I thought, Well, maybe some good will come of this, and that other people will be lucky like me.”
“But unfortunately, that was not enough for tabloids in England,” he continues. “They wanted to make a big drama out of it and suggest that I was dying. So next thing, I had to explain it to my 91-year-old mother, and I had to sit my boys down, who are 11, and speak to them about it.”
Costello issues a warning to any media outlet that reports he’s struggling with a disease he doesn’t have. “So I’ll punch the next person that puts ‘He struggles with cancer.’ It makes me furious because it’s so disrespectful to somebody who’s really struggling. Think about it for a second, it’s not a laughing matter. We all have friends who genuinely are frightened for their lives against a mortal illness. And they deserve our respect.”