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Slade star Noddy Holder breaks silence after throat cancer diagnosis: 'I kept it very low key'

Glam rock legend Noddy Holder tells The Big Issue in an exclusive interview that he was only given six months to live

Noddy Holder waving

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 05: Noddy Holder rides a bus during the Platinum Pageant on June 05, 2022 in London, England. The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II is being celebrated from June 2 to June 5, 2022, in the UK and Commonwealth to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6 February 1952. Image: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Slade frontman Noddy Holder has opened up about his cancer diagnosis and being told he only had six months to live.

In an exclusive interview with The Big Issue ahead of the 50th anniversary of Slade’s festive anthem Merry Xmas Everybody, Holder said he didn’t want people to “just think of me as a cancer victim”.

“The reason I’ve just been on the road doing shows with [boogie-woogie pianist and singer] Tom Seals and his band is that five years ago, I was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer,” he recalled to The Big Issue. “And I was only given six months to live.

“I kept it very low key because I didn’t want people to just think of me as a cancer victim – though I don’t call it a victim because that’s the wrong word.

“But at the Christie Hospital in Manchester I was offered a trial of a new drug. I was a sort of guinea pig for this drug that was four times stronger than normal chemotherapy. The consultant said, ‘We’ve never given this to anybody your age, but we are getting some success with younger people.’ So, I thought, what do I have to lose? I only had six months left anyway. And I’ve always had this positive mental attitude – and he said that could be a big bonus.

“So I’m still alive, thank God. They never tell you you’re cured – you’re never cured. You just carry on being checked on. But then I thought, I’m still around after five years, why don’t I do some shows? So people can see that I’m still standing and I can still sing a few tunes and tell a few stories.”

Noddy Holder, 77, continued: “I didn’t do a full two hours as I would have in the old days. But I think people were surprised at how well I could still belt out a tune.”

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It comes after the Slade legend’s wife, Suzan Holder, made his cancer diagnosis public for the very first time in her column for Cheshire Life magazine, adding that the drug had “worked a miracle”.

“The prognosis was bleak but Noddy coped with amazing good humour and breath-taking bravery,” she wrote. “There were no guarantees, no one knew if it would have any effect, let alone work miracles, but he responded well. As anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis will know, the experts never like to use the word ‘cure’, but here we are five years later and he’s feeling good and looking great.

“The care and expertise we experienced at the Christie was excellent. In addition, Noddy has always been great at living in the moment, not hankering for the past or worrying about the future. That attitude served him well and a lot of his recovery has been credited to his positive mental attitude.

“You need so much mental strength to get through something like this. I’ve always been impressed by my husband’s focus and determination but now I am completely in awe.”

Noddy Holder was frontman of Slade, also known for hit Cum On Feel the Noize, from 1966 to 1992. He is also known for his TV and radio work after starring in ITV comedy The Grimleys from 1999 to 2001.

Read his full exclusive interview in a future issue of The Big Issue, coming soon.

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