Stan Walker has never shied away from discussing his health struggles candidly, and today he revealed to BUILD Series Sydney the devastating reality of the cancerous gene that runs in his family, as well as his own experience beating cancer - and all with an incredible sense of humour.
The singer, who shot to fame as the winner of Australian Idol a little over a decade ago in 2008, was diagnosed with stomach cancer eight months after his mum was also told she had the disease. They both have the CDH1 gene mutation, as do many others in their family, which makes stomach cancer a very likely reality.
So when Stan was told in 2018 that he had 13 cancerous tumours in his body, he wasn’t all that shocked.
“It didn’t really hit me hard, I just thought I was going to get it,” he said, “It was a shock and not a shock.”
“My mum had just gone through cancer… and she rang me up and was crying and she goes, ‘Stan, I think you’ve got cancer’,” he explained. But Stan’s reaction to the news was an unusual one, and he said that after a few moments, “we just started laughing”.
“I never cried once,” he said, “I was tripped out and I didn’t know what to do,” but his reaction to his own diagnosis was nothing near the devastation he felt when he found out his mum was ill.
“When I found out my mum had cancer my whole life was dead,” he confessed.
“Every night I would wait for everybody to go to sleep and I’d go to the toilet and just cry. I remember praying, ‘God, don’t you dare take my mum away from me, I don’t think I’d be able to function, I’d probably stop singing’.”
“My mum’s everything. That was hard, but then me [referring to his own diagnosis], I’m like, ‘Oh that’s trippy’, and she’s crying and we just laughed together.”
Stan was told he’d need to have his stomach removed, but delayed the surgery by a month to finish work commitments and ensure he’d be able to foot all the medical bills. In that time, he began binge eating and joked that he would order takeaway food up to four times a day.
“My normal weight was 80-90kg and I got to 102kg, I’d never been to 102g before,” he laughed, “I looked like I was swollen, like I got stung by 1,000 bees, and it wasn’t until I woke up after I got my stomach out and I remember looking down [and going] ‘I’m still fat!’”
Humour aside, Stan’s recovery was far from smooth, and at times the pain was so bad he could hardly breathe.
“I had a lot of complications and a few different operations and procedures,” he explained, adding, “The body is so incredible, it just gets back into action and keeps going.”
Now he needs to be very careful with what he eats, including cutting out most gluten and dairy. and all greasy foods. He also has to be careful not to eat too quickly and requires B12 shots every six weeks.
Despite all this, he remains extremely upbeat and optimistic, and looks back on the experience with laughter.
Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at email@example.com
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.