"There was a week when everything hung in the balance and it could have been curtains, time to say goodbye," Wood told the Mail on Sunday of the diagnosis, which he kept a secret.
Wood found out he had cancer in May, when the Rolling Stones were undergoing physicals ahead of their upcoming European tour. The doctor administering the tests asked Wood – a lifelong chainsmoker who quit cigarettes a week before his newborn twins arrived in May 2016 – if he wanted a more extensive check-up.
"I said go for it," Wood said. "And then he came back with the news that I had this supernova burning away on my left lung. And to be totally honest, I wasn't surprised… He asked me what I wanted to do and my answer was simple, 'Just get it out of me.'"
A traumatic week of tests – "They needed to know if it had set up encampments and spread to my lymph nodes. If that had happened it would have been all over for me" – followed.
“I was prepared for bad news but I also had faith it would be OK," Wood said. "Apart from the doctors, we didn't tell anyone because we didn't want to put anyone else through the hell we were going through. But I made up my mind that if it had spread, I wasn't going to go through chemo, I wasn't going to use that bayonet in my body."
Thankfully, tests revealed that the cancer did not spread, with a five-hour procedure needed to remove the problem area.
"I'm OK now. But I'm going to have a check-up every three months," Wood added to the Mail on Sunday. "I was bloody lucky but then I've always had a very strong guardian angel looking out for me. By rights I shouldn't be here."
In March 2016, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman announced he was battling prostate cancer and that he expected to make a full recovery.