Phil Leadbetter – 5 time cancer survivor!

Phil Leadbetter, renowned resophonic guitarist and all-around bluegrass personality, is one of the rarest creatures known to man.

In addition be being among the most amicable and kind hearted people you would ever meet – and an extremely talented musician – he is also a five time cancer survivor! That’s right, after receiving treatment for his most recent bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Phil has been notified after his most recent test that his cancer is 100% in remission.

When we got in touch with him last night, Leadbetter told us that he had been able to receive the most recent breakthrough in therapy, and it seems to have done the trick.

“The drug I am on is not chemo, but a new breed of cancer drugs called ‘immunotherapy.’ These drugs enter the body, and turn on receptors in the body to become aggressive towards the cancer. It is basically using your own cells to turn aggressive to attack the cancer cells. It is cutting edge, and is still not available in many places. It is still new, and scientists are still learning about it. It works almost like getting a flu vaccine.

I had this drug last time, but it was still in clinical trials. They didn’t know alot about it. Last time I hit remission, my MD just let me go as being clear. Since they were still working on this drug, they found out many patients will require a maintenance dose from now on. That’s what I will be doing. I think they have this drug figured out now. My Oncologist at The University Of Tennessee Medical Center was one of the developers of this drug when he practiced in Detroit, MI. He transferred to UT/Knoxville 1 week before this last diagnosis, so I became his patient. He only treats Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What were the chances of this happening???”

So the big question on everyone’s mind is, when will we see you back on stage again?

“I’m still in a fog – still very weak and using a walker to help prevent falls. I have had 5 major falls initially where I struck my head. 3 of these were prior to hospital admission, and 2 were after discharge. I am very weak, but working to get strong. Until then this walker has saved me many times from losing my balance. The dizziness will get better.

I have been practicing every day for the last month. I am not done. We were working on a new Allstars Of Bluegrass CD before I got ill. Me, Alan Bibey, Steve Gulley, Robert Hale, and Jason Burleson plan to be back in the studio very soon to finish it up. It will be on Pinecastle. We have some great material, as well as a great duet with Steve Gulley/Steve Wariner. I am really excited about this CD, and I am excited to get back to a normal life.”

Hallelujah! Prayer works.

Glad to have you back, Uncle Phil.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.