Sir Elton John has told of his private battle with prostate cancer and how he was left “24 hours from death” due to an infection.
The singer revealed he was diagnosed with the disease in 2017 and had undergone surgery to successfully treat it, but later suffered complications.
Writing in his memoir Me, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail, Elton said opted for surgery rather than chemotherapy because he did not want the disease “hanging over” his family.
However, he said he was later left battling for his life after developing an infection while on tour in South America months after his surgery.
He was rushed to a London hospital “feeling worse than [he] ever had”, only to be told his “condition was so serious, the hospital didn’t have the equipment to cope with it”.
After being moved to another hospital, he spent two days in intensive care following an operation to have lymphatic fluid drained from his diaphragm. But he faced further complications after doctors realised the infection was much more serious than they’d first realised.
“There were MRI scans and God knows how many other procedures,” Elton wrote. “The doctors told David I was 24 hours away from death. If the South American tour had gone on for another day that would have been it: brown bread.
“So I was incredibly lucky — although, I have to say, I didn’t feel terribly lucky at the time. I lay awake all night, wondering if I was going to die.”
He continued: “In the hospital, alone at the dead of night, I’d prayed: please don’t let me die, please let me see my kids again, please give me a little longer.”
Elton left hospital after 11 days, but faced a seven-week recuperation period, where he had to learn to walk again.
He credited that time as being “the answer to his prayers” and led to his decision to retire from touring so he could spend more time with husband David Furnish and their sons Zachary and Elijah.
“If you want more time, you need to learn to live like this, you have to slow down,” he explained. “It was like being shown a different life, a life I realised I loved more than being on the road. Music was the most wonderful thing, but it still didn’t sound as good as Zachary chattering about what had happened at Cubs or football practice.
“Any lingering doubts about retiring from touring just evaporated.”
Elton also revealed how the original operation had left him suffering a period of incontinence, with his bladder “developing a mind of its own”.
He recalled playing a gig in Las Vegas, writing: “I’ve worn some ridiculous things onstage in my time, but never a giant nappy.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever stood in front of 4,000 cheering fans, singing Candle In The Wind while literally pissing yourself, but if you haven’t, I can tell you for a fact it’s quite an odd experience.”
Elton, who is currently on his farewell tour, also revealed in his book he fell out with Princess Diana, after she backed out of an agreement to write the foreword to a book for his Aids foundations.
They reconciled on the day fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered.