EXODUS's TOM HUNTING reflects on beating stomach cancer: 'science is amazing'
In a new interview with Czech Republic’s Backstage TV, EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting spoke about his appreciation for British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. Asked what comes to mind when he hears the words “JUDAS PRIEST“, he said: “An incredible body of work. A to Z, everything’s amazing. A lot of things come to mind. I think about what Glenn‘s (Tipton, PRIEST guitarist, who was diagnosed with the onset of the early stages of Parkinson’s disease more than a decade ago) going through, and I think about how they talk about that and how they treat Glenn. It’s very human shit that we’re all gonna go through. I have my own battle. Glenn‘s having his battle. But they don’t freak out about it; they just kind of deal with it. And he deals with it. It’s inspiring.”
Hunting also opened up about his recent battle with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the stomach, saying: “I got diagnosed with cancer in February of 2021. They found a tumor in my stomach, and they immediately went to work on it. And I got great doctors at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) in San Francisco, and they removed my stomach and, yeah, they got it all out of there. So, I’m lucky. Science is amazing.”
Last March, Hunting revealed that his doctors found “a second type of cancer” while they were preparing to perform a surgery on him during his battle with squamous cell carcinoma. The now 57-year-old, who underwent a successful total gastrectomy in July 2021, discussed his ordeal in an interview with Zetro’s Toxic Vault, the YouTube channel run by EXODUS singer Steve “Zetro” Souza. He said: “They’ve gotta cut your skin and then they’ve gotta cut your muscle. They’ve gotta get into, basically, your very core and pull out this huge organ, which had a tumor inside it. And also, as a curveball… They do an exploratory surgery ahead of time called laparoscopy where they basically… They cut a little slit, they go in with a camera and with another device that kind of moves organs out of the way so the camera can proceed and keep going — like, look at stuff. And they found what they thought was the same kind of cancer in my stomach on my abdomen wall. And it was a form of mesothelioma, and I was, like, ‘What?’ But at first, they thought they were looking at the same cancer I had in my stomach, in which case I would have been stage four plus — forget about it. This guy gets chemo. Keep him comfortable until ultimately it takes you out. But, anyways, the fact that I had a second type of cancer — it’s called peritoneal mesothelioma — they did a surgery within a surgery… The whole thing, looking back on it, is pretty mindblowing.”
In December 2021, Hunting told the “Put Up Your Dukes” podcast that he wanted to use his experience as a cancer survivor to interact with others who may be going through a similar situation.
“I’m not qualified now, but I think in a couple of more months, they deem me qualified to talk to other people about this disease, and I’m gonna do it,” he said. “‘Cause I want people to know about it and I want people to get checked. Just going public with it — I don’t do social media, but what I read on the EXODUS (sites) was, like, ‘Hey, I’m having gut problems too,’ and, ‘I’m gonna go get checked out now.’ I hope people get the answers they’re looking for.”
“I’m not saying those drugs that they give you for your gut are bad. They get you by. But if you’re having what you think is a gut problem, tell ’em you wanna get scoped. ‘Cause some of those scans and some of those tests, they won’t pick up what’s going on inside there.
“Since I’m on this journey, dude, they’re fucking scanning me constantly,” Tom added. “‘Cause they wanna see how I’m reacting to what they’re doing too. So it’s all part of the science and the evolution of the science. If they can help me live — and I love my life — and I can help them develop the science to help the next batch of people who you know are gonna get this shit, that’s a win-win.”
Hunting rejoined his EXODUS bandmates on stage in October 2021 at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California.
EXODUS tapped John Tempesta to play drums for the band at Psycho Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada in August 2021 and at Full Terror Assault in Cave In Rock, Illinois in September 2021 while Hunting was recovering from surgery. Tempesta was a member of EXODUS from 1989 until 1993 and played on the band’s albums “Impact Is Imminent” (1990) and “Force Of Habit” (1992).
A GoFundMe campaign to help Hunting with medical expenses had previously raised more than $114,000 — including $5,000 from Tom‘s former EXODUS bandmate, current METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett, and $1,500 from FOZZY singer and wrestling superstar Chris Jericho.
EXODUS released its new album, “Persona Non Grata”, in November 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records. The LP was recorded at a studio in Lake Almanor, California and was engineered by Steve Lagudi and EXODUS. It was produced by EXODUS and was mixed by Andy Sneap. For the third time in the band’s history, they returned to Swedish artist Pär Olofsson to create the album artwork.
“Persona Non Grata” is the follow-up to 2014’s “Blood In Blood Out”, which was the San Francisco Bay Area thrashers’ first release since the departure of EXODUS‘s singer of nine years, Rob Dukes, and the return of Souza, who previously fronted EXODUS from 1986 to 1993 and from 2002 to 2004.