Ex Kiss drummer is four years clear but admits: ‘Every time I get a pain I think of Big C’

Peter Criss

Early warning: Peter Criss

Former Kiss drummer Peter Criss has been clear of cancer for four years – but he admits every time he feels pain the spectre of the killer disease returns to haunt him.

Criss was diagnosed with breast cancer, a form which many people don’t realise can affect men as well as women. Since fighting off the illness the 65-year-old has dedicated time to spreading the word in the hope of saving lives.

Criss tells Ultimate Classic Rock: “My checkup comes up next week. I’m real excited about it because I feel great, except for the old pains that come from drumming for fifty years.

“They say it’s five years and you’re out of the water. Every day I wake up and get a pain, I think of the Big C immediately. Because once it’s in your body it’s evil.

“I even went into therapy over it all because I just couldn’t believe it. You just have that fear – it never goes away. But I’m not worried. Every day above ground, my dad used to say, is a good day.”

Criss was diagnosed early after discovering a lump in his chest at the time his wife, also a cancer victim, was receiving her own medical attention. Her doctor checked him out and had the treatment process started right away.

The drummer says: “It was a nodule, like a lump in my nipple. Look out for bumps and pain, a kind of pain where you just know, ‘This is a kind of pain I’ve never had before’.

“I’ve had cysts and I remember them. This was different. It hurt like hell. It got bigger as I screwed around with it.

“I don’t know why of all things, because men just don’t think of breast cancer – we just don’t – but I swear, buddy, I just knew that breast cancer had hit me for some reason.”

At first his doctor thought it was a false alarm, but a few weeks later Criss got a phone call he describes as an “Are you standing or sitting type of call.

“The bottom of your stomach falls out. He goes, ‘You’ve got breast cancer, Peter. You have to come back in now, and I want to remove your nipple and your breast muscle and take your lymph nodes out, and make sure we get this son of a bitch immediately, because I can because you came in so soon.

“That is the key: early detection, my friend. The minute you feel something, and I don’t care if it’s under your arm or your leg or your testicles or behind your ear – you must tell someone or go to your doctor immediately. Just sitting around, you won’t be here next year.”

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