Wrens frontman Charles Bissell has revealed that he is battling a form of blood cancer. In a darkly humorous Facebook post, the indie rocker wrote that he’d been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “That’s a white blood cell cancer sorta thing (technically a plasma cell, so not actually leukemia),” he wrote. “But because I’m ‘young’ for this (average age of diagnosis is usually more like 70) and because targeted treatments have advanced so much, especially in the last few years, my prognosis is almost certainly not as dire as googling might make it seem.”
Bissell wrote that the illness was not curable, but it was treatable. He expects to make weekly hospital trips for medication and chemotherapy and eventually anticipates undergoing a bone-marrow transplant, which would be done via transfusion. He likened his situation to having a chronic condition like diabetes – “if diabetes came with free bone marrow.”
“The drugs that have come out in the last year or so are getting pretty spectacular so there’s a lot of optimism that that yo-yo cycle is flattening out and they’re even talking cure stuff,” he said, building up to a dark Robert Smith-related punchline. “And they don’t mean ‘Friday, I’m in Love.'”
Bissell said that because his drug therapy is progressing well, it seems less likely he’d need the transplant/transfusion. “It’s a bullet I may even dodge entirely,” he wrote.
Bissell wrote that the cancer scare has “re-shuffled [his] priority deck” and that he did not yet know how his condition would affect a long-promised Wrens record to follow up 2003’s The Meadowlands. He mentioned touring as one particular obstacle. “I’m at this point even less inclined to hop in a tour van on the multi-week plan,” he wrote.
He closed his update with a YouTube link to the Knack’s “My Sharona” and a wry joke about covering it as “My Eloma.”
Pitchfork reports that the band claimed to have finished a new LP in 2014 and that it was mastered the following year. The group ultimately put out a three-song cassette, Three Types of Reading Ambiguity, last year, according to the website.