Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson Thankful For His Cancer Battle

Photo: AFP

Iron Maiden frontman, entrepreneur and airline pilot Bruce Dickinson looked back on his battle with throat cancer as a "gift" in a recent TED Talk.

Dickinson has always been a doer — and one of the world's busiest people. During the near-18-minute virtual presentation, the singer discussed his heavy metal triumphs, his developing green energy business, his wildly successful Trooper beer (with Iron Maiden and Robinson Brewery) and how he moved forward when his life seemed to be falling apart.

Beyond surviving throat cancer in the last decade, Dickinson suddenly lost his estranged wife Patti Boyden, the mother of his three children, a year ago in what authorities described as a terrible accident.

Addressing the myriad tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dickinson explained that he tries to think of setbacks as "nature's cattle prod" — challenges which force creative solutions.

"Suddenly, you think of ideas because you have to, and then you realize that when the world returns to what we perceive of as being normal, the ideas that you came out with when the world was not normal… actually some of those ideas are pretty good in their own right. ‘Why didn’t I think of those ideas before?’ Think of it as a gift.”

The same thinking applied to his cancer battle, the singer continued, admitting that it took him a while to feel optimism while facing his mortality.

“I had cancer five years ago," Dickinson said. "It was pretty hard for the first week or so to think of that as being a gift, but actually in hindsight, it was. When I had cancer, I was not intending to check out anytime soon. I realized it was a possibility, but I can not change that outcome. What can I do? I can make a plan for the future. Let’s go and start the process of learning to fly a 747. Let’s do the ground school, let’s lay the groundwork. Let’s assume I’m going to be able to do that, because I came back and flew a 747 on the tour after I came back from cancer.”

He concluded by addressing a lesson from one of his favorite historical figures, Windston Churchill.

“I’m not even gonna bother talking about his many flaws…" Dickinson said. "I’ll tell you one thing you can take from this man — dogged determination when it matters."

Iron Maiden hopes to get back on tour in 2022. This summer, however, Dickinson will be touring the U.K. with his autobiographical one-man show, 'An Evening With Bruce Dickinson.'

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