Berry will undergo radiation and chemo before returning to the road
Veteran country hitmaker John Berry is battling cancer, Billboard has learned.
“We started off this year with a hiccup and we want to tell you a little bit about that,” Berry reveals in a video he and his wife Robin are sharing on his Facebook page this morning.
Berry recently finished his 22nd annual Christmas Songs and Stories tour, visiting 21 cities in 2018. During the tour, he performed holiday music, as well as such hits as “Your Love Amazes Me,” “I Think About It All The Time,” and “Kiss Me in the Car” as well as songs from his new EP, Thomas Road, which released Nov. 30.
In November, before the tour launched, Berry says he started feeling like there was a “catch” in his throat that felt like the “skin of a Spanish peanut” was stuck. He looked and saw his tonsils were swollen. He went to doctor and was put on antibiotics and steroids for a tonsil infection, but the problem persisted. He was able to do the entire tour and sounded fine, but didn’t feel well.
So after another round of antibiotics and steroids, his wife, Robin, made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist on Jan. 4. A CT scan revealed two tumors in his tonsils. Following surgery to remove both tonsils and part of his soft palate, Berry got the biopsy results and was told he had tonsil cancer.
“You don’t see fear on these faces,” Robin says in the video, and Berry is definitely calm and smiling as he fills fans in on the news. “We have a planned regimen and John is undergoing treatment for about five weeks. We’ve had to move a couple of tour dates around. All is going well. We are trusting God to get us through this time,” she continues.
Berry assures fans that this particular cancer is “highly treatable and has an incredible cure rate,” with Robin chiming in that there is over a 90% cure rate.
Robin encourages fans to reach out. “There is nothing greater that John needs right now than to hear from you guys that love him so very much,” she says, sharing how to reach Berry at JohnBerryMusic413@gmail.com and by mail at P.O. Box 353, Gallatin, TN 37066.
“Robin and I have a Bible verse that we’ve been claiming during this time,” Berry says, citing Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
This isn’t Berry’s first health scare. On the same day that “Your Love Amazes Me,” hit No. 1 in 1994, Berry underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor that was benign but had been wreaking havoc on his life for months causing a severe personality change. “We are fragile beings. A blister smaller than the end of my finger changed my entire everything,” he told Billboard last November of the brain tumor.
Berry is braced for the upcoming treatment plan and is in good spirits. “I am 10 days post operation today and feeling much better,” Berry said on Monday in a note he sent to family and friends. “Three days ago I was able to stop the prescription pain medication. I still have some soreness when I swallow, and in my jaw, but a few ibuprofen and I am good to go. Saw my surgeon today for a follow up appointment and my throat is healing well.”
Berry will have his first visit with the chemo doctor this week and will undergo a five-week treatment plan including chemo and radiation. He says his manager Brian Smith has already rescheduled his tour dates. “I’ll be looking forward to a busy tour schedule come late spring,” he says.
Berry wanted to share the news on his socials because he wanted fans to hear first and learn about it directly from him. He plans to keep them informed. “I’m hoping to use these platforms to encourage others on whatever giants they may be facing in life,” he says. “I also think that it will be good for my soul to share my thoughts and feelings about my own journey.”