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Elton John: "I was 24 hours away from death"

News 07/10/2019

Elton John wrote that doctors had described him as "24 hours away from death" as he cancelled his South American tour due to complications from cancer surgery in 2017.

He revealed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer when his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was in the planning phase.

In his new memoir, Me, John explained (via Daily Mail) that the cancer surgery was successful, but he began feeling ill again after being back on the road. For two months, John was in pain from a rare surgery complication which causes his lymph nodes to leak fluid. And then, he was accidentally cured.

"A routine colonoscopy shifted the fluid permanently, days before my 70th birthday," said John.

Everything was back to "normal" for Sir Elton, but soon, he began feeling ill again and "couldn't stop shaking". He returned to the UK and was rushed to the hospital. John explained that it was the worst feeling he had ever felt.

"I was taken to King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where I had a scan. I was told that my condition was so serious, the hospital didn't have the equipment to cope with it," he recalled.

"I had to be moved to the London Clinic. My last memory is of hyperventilating while they were trying to find a vein to give me an injection… By 2.30pm, I was on the operating table, having more lymphatic fluid drained – this time from my diaphragm."

"For two days afterwards, I was in intensive care. When I came round, they told me I'd contracted a major infection in South America, and that they were treating it with massive intravenous doses of antibiotics. But the fever came back. They took a sample of the infection... it was much more serious than they'd first realised."

"The doctors told David [Furnish] (his husband) I was 24 hours away from death. If the South American tour had gone on for another day, that would have been it: brown bread." John spent eleven days in the hospital before he was allowed home to his husband and two sons. He spent another seven weeks learning to walk again and recuperating.

John describes himself as "incredibly lucky" although he didn't feel as lucky when he was suffering at the time. "I lay awake all night, wondering if I was going to die," he said. "In the hospital, alone at the dead of night, I'd prayed: Please don't let me die, please let me see my kids again, please give me a little longer."

He also wrote about what led him to end his touring career. His husband, David, gave him a list of their sons' upcoming life events and asked, "How much of this do you want to be around for?".

You can work your tour schedules around it.

Elton explained, "It effectively mapped out Zachary and Elijah's lives. By the time they reached the final dates on it, they'd be teenagers, young men. And I'd be in my 80s."

"'All of it,' I said finally. 'I want to be there for all of it'," John replied to his husband.