John Farnham’s horrific mouth cancer battle comes just a few years after the music legend finally quit a 56-year smoking habit.
The 73-year-old underwent a marathon 12-hour surgery in Melbourne on Tuesday to remove a tumour and part of his jaw, in an operation involving 26 medical staff.
The cause of his cancer is unclear but it comes just three years after he finally kicked a smoking habit that had plagued him since the age of 14.
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford previously revealed that Farnham was given a ‘wake up call’ by one of his sons, who told the singer ‘please stop smoking dad, I don’t want you to die’.
Farnham underwent an almost 12-hour surgery to remove a tumour from his mouth on Tuesday
Farnham started smoking at 14 before quitting in 1992. He picked up cigars in 2004 before finally kicking the habit in 2019
Farnham said he started smoking as a ‘stupid’ teenager before leaving it behind in 1992 when he starred in the lead role in the production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
He quit ‘cold turkey’, with his son’s warning a key motivation.
‘He was always puffing away, I don’t think he was ever proud of it,’ Mr Ford said.
However, 12 years later, in 2004, he started smoking cigars when he was gifted a box for Christmas.
He kept the habit up for another 15 years before a massive health scare in 2019.
The singer cancelled a handful of shows in April of that year after suffering a severe kidney infection.
The health scare prompted him to undergo a huge health overall and he finally stopped smoking just before his 70th birthday.
Discussing his health troubles in 2019, the singer said he’s ‘better off not smoking’.
‘I gave up smoking just before my birthday. I haven’t had a smoke for a few months which I’m happy about and that’s made me feel better. I’m still having a love affair with the occasional glass of red wine.
‘Stupid habit. It was a little easier to quit from cigars, but I’m better off not smoking, I’m a bloody singer for God’s sake.
‘I’m using my lungs. I’ve already noticed the change. I’ve increased my range, I’ve got a bit more to give, I’ve taken a blockage out.’
Farnham may never perform again after undergoing the operation on Tuesday to remove the tumour and part of his jaw.
‘The cancer tumour was located in his mouth and it has been successfully removed,’ his wife Jill Farnham said.
‘There is still a long road of recovery and healing ahead of us, but we know John is up for that task.’
The musician is being supported by his wife Jill and their two adult sons Robert and James (pictured, the Farnham family pose for a photo in 2018)
Legendary music icon John Farnham is in a stable condition and recovering after a marathon 12-hour operation to remove a cancerous growth from his mouth
Farnham is now stable in the ICU and will remain in hospital for some time as he recovers.
Gaynor Wheatley, the widow of Farnham’s close friend and former manager Glenn Wheatley, said his family only learnt of his cancer a few weeks ago.
‘I think John suffers from that man thing that says ”I’m fine”, and was lucky, and we have Jill to thank to take him to the doctors (where they) found this legion in his mouth which has now been taken out and addressed,’ she told The Today Show on Wednesday
She said there was no complications overnight, and thanked the ‘hero’ surgeons who operated on Farnham.
‘I think at one stage there was 26 surgeons, so they’re our heroes, they’re our rockstars,’ Ms Wheatley said.
She added that Farnham was expected to be ‘looking great’ by Christmas.
‘There will be a period of time in hospital just recovering from the surgery, and ongoing treatment to ensure we’ve got it all,’ she said.
The Farnham family confirmed he is now recovering in the ICU, and thanked health workers for their efforts.
‘We are in awe of the incredible teams of health care professionals who have guided us through this very challenging time with such compassion,’ they said.
‘All of you undertook this big job today and gave us a magnificent outcome.
‘To all the surgeons, doctors, nurses and consultants – thank you one and all so very much.’