Round 3 for Uncle Phil

Phil Leadbetter at Bean Blossom 2015 - photo by Daniel MullinsFor the past few years, we have followed the saga of Phil Leadbetter, the award-winning reso-guitarist, and his battle with cancer. It’s a story of personal courage, determined faith, and successful medical research as he has twice come out on top against this detestable disease.

But it’s also a story of love, and bluegrass music. To help him get through the lengthy and tedious treatments he endured in 2011 when the cancer first appeared, Phil planned out the solo album he would record when he recovered. And sure enough, when he came out on top after stem cell therapy, The Next Move was recorded and released in 2014.

The cancer returned, however, and Phil had to undergo another round of chemo, this time with a newly-developed drug called Treanda. Six months later, he received a clean scan.

Sadly, a follow-up has found signs of the cancer’s returning, and Phil shared this update for our readers.

“As you may know, I was declared ‘cancer free’ for a second time back in December after 6 rounds of a brand new type of chemotherapy. I had my 6 month scan last week, and it showed some suspicious lymph nodes in areas of my neck, near my pancreas, and behind my lung. My oncologist decided to do a needle biopsy of the lymph node in my neck, and it came back as recurrent Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but once again….we caught it very early.

The plan is for me to go to Vanderbilt on Wednesday to see what plan they have for me. This is my 2nd relapse since my stem cell/bone marrow transplant that I had in September 2012. Hoping to be able to continue playing with The Dale Ann Bradley Band, and also J.D Crowe And The New South ‘Flashback’ Band. That all will depend on the course of treatment that they decide on.

I know we are gonna have to hit this very aggressively once again. I love this music more than I can ever begin to tell you, but right now my priority has to be on life and getting well. Hoping to be able to say that I’m a 3-time survivor if we can get this under control.  I sure could use prayers for me and my family.

I will post updates at”

Surely everyone will join us in wishing Phil the very best as he faces this most unwelcome challenge for the third time. Well wishes can be shared at his Facebook page.

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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.