The drummer first learned of his ailment after growing sick in June, feeling like he had a sore throat and a cold. Eventually, a doctor at USC discovered a tumor at the base of his tongue, similar, Rockett said, to Michael Douglas, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson and Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton. Another doctor at USC told Rockett that he’d contracted a “hell of a cancer” but one that was “very treatable.” The cause, he said, was HPV.
He did nine rounds of chemo and his mother-in-law brought him to 35 rounds of radiation. “That kicks your dick into the dirt,” he said. “But I went, OK, this is what I’m gonna do. I wanna beat it, so I’m just gonna go head first into this.'” He maintained a positive outlook throughout.
“At the end of the day, it was really the worst thing that you can go through, for me,” he said. “I’ve had a decent life. … It was just a battle that I had to get through, and I got to the point where I couldn’t really talk. I had, I think, 16 canker sores in my mouth at one time. And it’s, like, if you could take your throat and turn it inside out and sunburn it. … I had to use this stuff called Magic Mouthwash just to drink the water. It hurt so bad, I couldn’t. … And I’m still on a liquid diet.”
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His outlook is looking good as of last week. “Both [of my] doctors said I’m doing excellent, and they both have excellent prognosis,” he said. “In early February, I get my PET scan, and that’s the end-all. That tells you if there’s any activity. They both said they suspect that there won’t be. And so I’ve got fingers crossed. … It looks like it’s in remission.”
He kept his diagnosis secret until now to maintain his privacy and to see how he dealt with the treatment.
Poison issued its most recent record, Poison’d!, in 2007. Since then, they have maintained a steady concert schedule. Their last big outing, in 2013, was with Def Leppard and Lita Ford. Rockett also plays with Devil City Angels, alongside members of L.A. Guns and Cinderella, and appeared on their recently released self-titled debut.