Morrissey health: If I die, then I die – legendary singer, 62, on bad health condition

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Although quite a private individual, a few years ago Morrissey, 62, discussed his cancer diagnosis and his ongoing battle with depression. The announcement of his cancer battle came after the star cancelled part of his US tour after being treated for a respiratory infection a few months prior. But opening up about his health troubles, the severity was far worse than expected. His other recent ailments have included pneumonia, an ulcer, the throat condition Barrett’s oesophagus and anaemia.

Appearing on an episode of American chat show Larry King Now, Morrissey said: “Barrett’s cancer, it’s in the oesophagus.

“They scrape it occasionally and I have medication, but I’m OK. Lots of people have it and they fade away, lots of people have it and they don’t fade away.”

After being hospitalised a number of times, Morrissey added: “If I die, then I die. And if I don’t, then I don’t.

“You don’t really hear that word, that c-word. It seems to drift over you – you just say: ‘Yes, oh yes.’ Later when you’re on the stairs by yourself, it triggers in your mind. At the time, you don’t hear it.

“I have had four cancer-scrapings, but so what.”

In an exchange with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, at the start of one of his tours, Morrissey gave a blunt statement about his appearance.

He said: “I know I look quite bad on recent photographs, but I am afraid this is what illness does to the overall countenance.

“I will save relaxation for when I’m dead.”

Cancer Research UK explains that the condition is caused by cells in the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus) changing. In some cases these cells can develop into oesophageal cancer.

The cells that line the oesophagus – known as squamous cells – are normally flat, but when Barrett’s develops cells become column shaped and start to grow abnormally.

It is important to note that many people with Barrett’s do not develop oesophagus cancer, but your risk of cancer increases the more cells change.
Between three and 13 people out of 100 with Barrett’s oesophagus in the UK will develop oesophageal adenocarcinoma in their lifetime.

Spotting early signs of oesophageal cancer can be difficult, but the NHS suggests that individuals may notice changes in their digestion such as the following:

  • Having problems swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Symptoms of indigestion, such as burping a lot.

Other possible symptoms of cancer can include changes to the voice, loss of appetite, fatigue and having no energy or pain in the throat or middle of your chest when swallowing.

Although having received important cancer treatment, Morrissey went on to explain about some of the negatives he has experienced as a result.

He said: “I think [cancer treatment] has slowed me down considerably because doctors and hospitals and medications are actually very ageing in their way, and they can often exhaust you more than whatever medical problem you have. If I’m asked to give any more blood I think I’ll crack up.”

Despite Morrissey’s admittance, oesophageal cancer is often treatable with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy often being used.

Surgery aims to remove part or, in a small number of cases, most of the oesophagus. They may also need to remove parts of other organs around the oesophagus, such as the top of the stomach.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are then used to kill cancer cells and improve the symptoms of more advanced cancer.

As a potential cause of oesophageal cancer, there are some lifestyle choices that will reduce your risk of developing Barrett’s oesophagus.

These include the following:

  • Trying to lose weight
  • Letting hot drinks cool down before drinking
  • Trying to cut down on alcohol and avoiding more than 14 units a week
  • Quitting smoking.

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