John Farnham’s long road to recovery

"We know John is up for that task."
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If it wasn’t for his devoted wife, Jill, Aussie legend John Farnham may never have discovered the mouth tumour that almost cost him his life.

Just a few short weeks after saying goodbye to his dear friend, Olivia Newton-John, the 73-year-old singer was raced to a Melbourne hospital for a marathon 11-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove part of his jaw and the cancerous tumour, which was discovered less than three weeks ago.

WATCH: John Farnham stars on Home and Away

Jill and their sons, Robert, 42, and James, 34, were by John’s side.

“There is still a long road of recovery and healing ahead of us, but we know John is up for that task,” a relieved Jill said in a statement issued after the terrifying ordeal.

“We are genuinely overwhelmed with the wave of support, love and messages we have received from so many people around Australia. This means so much to us as a family … John will be blown away.”

John discovered a lump in his mouth earlier this month. (Credit: Getty)

After finally giving up smoking cigars following a kidney infection three years ago, John was in no rush to see a doctor when he complained about a lump in his mouth earlier this month.

Jill, who has been by his side for almost 50 years, insisted John go immediately to see a specialist.

Close family friend Gaynor Wheatley paid tribute to Jill last week, saying she’d told John “in no uncertain terms” that he has to keep fighting.

Still grieving the loss of her husband Glenn Wheatley, John’s best friend and manager, who died in February, Gaynor told Richard Wilkins in an interview with Today: “Jill is extraordinary. She is a remarkable woman.

WATCH: John Farnham performs You’re the Voice

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“She has held us all together. We have Jill to thank for taking him to the doctors … He’s stable and in ICU – the outcome I wanted and everyone wanted.

“It is incredible and what an extraordinary team of doctors … I think at one stage there were 26 surgeons. They are our heroes, they’re our rockstars.”

The procedure needed to save John’s life involved two major surgeries, with the first removing the tumour and part of his jaw. The second was to reconstruct his jaw and, hopefully, give John back his famous singing voice.

Those closest to the man whose hits saw him become the voice of his generation, are confident that he won’t lose his and will make a full recovery. And while John has not performed in public in the past two years, there are high hopes that he will be back to his best by year’s end.

John was close friends with the late Olivia Newton-John. (Credit: Getty)

“I think by Christmas we will be looking great,” Gaynor says.

John refused to let his shock cancer diagnosis overwhelm him and was even seen joking with nurses from a wheelchair as he was taken into surgery at an undisclosed Melbourne hospital last Tuesday. 

“Cancer diagnosis is something that so many people face every single day, and countless others have walked this path before me,” John said in a statement he released before undergoing the operation.

“The one thing I know for sure is that we have the very best specialist healthcare professionals in Victoria, and we can all be grateful for that. I know I am.”

For more, check out the latest issue of New Idea out now!

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