For the first time, “Lord of the Dance” founder Michael Flatley has discussed his malignant melanoma cancer diagnosis in 2003, which almost finished his career.
Now 57, Flatley described the 2003 malignant melanoma diagnosis and said it changed his life.
He told Russell Davies on BBC Radio 2: "I will never forget it,’ he says. ‘I was in the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills and the doctor called to say he had bad news, that it was a malignant melanoma.
"I said: 'But that’s not that serious. It’s not life-threatening, surely?'
"He told me to get straight in my car and come to see him as he needed to operate there and then. I thought: ‘This is going to be it. I could die. You don’t forget that.
'In the end, the operation was successful. I have to go every now and again to have little spores removed but I’m okay.
“If I was in a position to go for everything, that intensified.
“And the value of friends, the value of loved ones — all of a sudden, material things faded away into the past.
“My art and the people that I spend time with were the thing.”
Flatley had previously stated his broken-down body had finished his career he told The Daily Mail.
“I am always in pain. Agony. Every morning my poor wife [Niamh] has to witness me spending the first few minutes of the day trying to straighten my back and push my legs to start working.”
Surely this isn’t all down to a virus? He shakes his head.
“Nothing to do with it at all. I’ve wrecked my body with dance. I can’t say I wasn’t warned and I can’t say I haven’t loved every single minute of putting myself into this state.
“But physically I’m a mess. I have a recurring broken bone in my right foot which just spontaneously breaks itself.
“My hamstrings are ruined, my groin is gone and I’ve done irreparable damage to two points of my spine – T1 and T6.”
For decades, Flatley’s legs were insured for £40 million.
“Not anymore. It’s a very different sum but it’s very hard to get anyone to insure these legs," he says.
He broke his own record by toe-tapping more than 35 times per second.
“The only way you can be confident in yourself is to know you are as absolutely good as you possibly can be.
“No corners cut. No details left to chance. There is blood and sweat on the inside of every single one of my dance shoes,” he says.
“But now my lower back is in a dreadful state. I have no one to blame but myself.
“I remember touring in Germany and needing to have days of cortisone injections because the pain was so bad.
“The doctor told me he wouldn’t do anymore, that the base of my spine would just fall apart, so I did what I thought any self-respecting dancer should do: I got another doctor; I got more injections.
“But it comes to a point where you just can’t do it anymore.”