The Voice star's decade-long battle with cancer: '3 months to live'

Michael Stangel was given a terminal prognosis in 2013.

Aussie musician Michael Stangel appeared on season two of The Voice in 2013, touching hearts around the nation with his grim cancer prognosis. At the time, the father had been given just 'three months to live', and he competed on the reality TV show to leave a ‘legacy’ behind for his kids.

While he made it through the battle rounds and performed during the live shows, the singer was eliminated in week two. He is a proven fighter, and although he says his “15 minutes of fame” are over, he’s grateful for everything the show helped him achieve.

Two photos of Michael Stangel competing on The Voice Australia in 2013.
Michael Stangel was given three months to live before he auditioned for The Voice. Photo: Nine

In a chat with Yahoo Lifestyle, he revealed how tough his cancer battle really was and explains how he’s still alive, 10 years after believing he only had weeks left to live.

The 55-year-old was first diagnosed with a myxoma in 2012, which is a growth in the heart. According to St Vincent’s Hospital, women are more likely than men to develop a myxoma, and it can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and more.


After what seemed like a successful removal of his myxoma, the record producer started developing extremely painful headaches, which he describes as feeling like ‘a sledgehammer hitting his head’.

“They found seven tumours in my brain. At that stage, there’d only been a handful of cases throughout written medical history of this myxoma tumour ever metastasising to the brain,” he tells us. “Most of the people that have had [a myxoma tumour in the brain] pass away, and these tumours were growing.

“At that stage, if [they] kept growing at the rate they were, I wasn’t going to make it too much longer.”

Joel Madden in The Voice red chair with Michael Stangel singing behind him.
The musician was part of Joel Madden's team on The Voice. Photo: Nine

In what seems like a miracle, after Michael had appeared on The Voice, the remaining tumour left in his brain stopped growing so rapidly. Before it slowed down, he was given the option to remove the tumour, but was advised that it could be a risky operation.

His surgeon said there was a “good chance” that the reality TV contestant could lose all movement in the right side of his body, so he decided to leave the tumour alone. Against all odds, he was given the news four years ago that his brain tumour is now growing ‘so slowly’, that it will only pose a risk to his life when he is approximately 90 to 100 years old.

Michael and Jodie Stangel having a cup of tea
Michael and his wife Jodie are currently appearing in a commercial for GMHBA Health Insurance. Photo: Supplied

Michael’s latest project

The singer has used his public profile to work as a motivational speaker as well as staying active in the entertainment industry. He stumbled onto his latest project for GMHBA Insurance by chance.

“I did an audition for a commercial, didn’t know who it was [for] or what it was,” he tells us, before adding the producers were looking for ‘someone with tattoos’.

In a twist of fate, Michael’s story lined up perfectly with the health insurance company, as it happened to be his own provider.

“You know, the operations I had…probably totalled over half a million dollars worth of brain operations in hospital stays, for the period of nearly 18 months,” he reveals. “Private health cover was really important for my story, doesn’t mean everybody’s going to have [the same] story, but you never know.”

He was grateful that producers allowed his wife, Jodie, to be part of the commercial alongside him.

“I think [my cancer] was more difficult for my then partner, but now wife, and the kids and family, because they had no control [over it],” he adds.

‘I would seriously consider it’

The musician admits that he wasn’t in the best shape when he first competed on The Voice, saying that he was struggling with the sheer amount of operations and hospital visits before the competition.

After he was eliminated, he continued on his health journey, but it was even harder being in the public eye. He recalls a scary moment where he ended up having a seizure in Melbourne, before being bombarded by questions about The Voice when he arrived at the hospital.

If producers approached him today to appear in this year’s singing competition, he says it would definitely be something to ‘consider’.

“The honest answer is perhaps, but it would have to be for the right reasons. I really enjoyed the time on that competition. I’m a lot older, that was 2013, so it’s a decade ago now. But it’s something that I don’t regret going on,” he spills.

“It was good fun. So yes, if I was asked to go on it again, I probably would seriously consider it, but I [do] have other commitments [to consider].”

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