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Phil Lesh, Grateful Dead Founding Member, Announces Fight With Cancer

Bassist Phil Lesh, a founder of the legendary rock band The Grateful Dead, recently announced that doctors have discovered cancerous tumors in his bladder. Lesh revealed that he was diagnosed in early October, and has been undergoing tests at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA Today said in a report. He also explained he will undergo surgery in order to remove the tumors.

The veteran musician told the publication that he’s “very fortunate” to have the pathology reports show the tumors are all non-aggressive and that there is no indication that they have spread. In 2006, the bassist had been diagnosed with prostate cancer — the disease that killed his father. He underwent a successful operation in December of 2006 to have it removed, and later released a statement stating the cancer was gone.

In a statement, Lesh gave more insight into his condition.

“I am very fortunate to have the pathology reports show that the tumors are all non-aggressive, and that there is no indication that they have spread. So thanks to my local doctor Cliff Sewell, and the incredible team at the Mayo Clinic, all is well and I can return to normal activities in two weeks from my surgery.”

Although Lesh described his prognosis as being positive, the rocker was forced to cancel some shows scheduled for October 24 and 25. However, he said he plans to reschedule these shows as soon as possible, and after undergoing surgery he is expected to quickly resume the concerts. Lesh also issued his fans an apology for canceling the Phil & Friends shows.

As reported by Radio, the rocker revealed to fans that he is fighting bladder cancer via a post on Terrapin Crossroads’ Facebook page. The following text is an excerpt from the post.

“Dear Friends,

“I am sorry to let you know that I will need to cancel the October 24th and 25th Phil & Friends shows with Chris Robinson.

“I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in early October, and have spent the last few weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale doing tests and eventually surgery to remove the tumors. I am very fortunate to have the pathology reports show that the tumors are all non aggressive, and that there is no indication that they have spread.

“So thanks to my local doctor Cliff Sewell, and the incredible team at the Mayo Clinic, all is well and I can return to normal activities in two weeks from my surgery….”

In 1998, Phil Lesh underwent a liver transplant after suffering from a chronic hepatitis C infection. Shortly after the operation, he became an outspoken advocate for organ donor programs and regularly encouraged those who attended his performances to become organ donors.

The Grateful Dead is considered one of the leading American rock groups of the 1960s and the band developed a legion of fans that followed them from concert to concert, called “Deadheads.” Phil Lesh was showcased on stage with the group playing his bass guitar, an instrument often relegated to an accompanying role.

The Grateful Dead and its fans are closely associated with the hippie movement and were seen as a form of institution in the counter-culture of America for many years. Former members of the group include Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Robert Hunter, Tom Constanten, Keith Godchaux, Donna Jean Godchaux, Brent Mydland, and Vince Welnick.

Lesh is currently developing his solo career after performing in The Grateful Dead’s final concerts over the summer. Now, he regularly performs at the Terrapin Crossroads restaurant in San Rafael, California.

[Image via Cory Schwartz / Getty Images Entertainment]