Chris Evans apologises as Stereophonics singer swears on air
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Back in 2018, the lead singer and guitarist explained that the “pea-like growth” was found after he went for a routine GP check-up. After being diagnosed the star was warned that surgery had no guarantee of removing the whole thing and even if it did, the procedure could have ruined his vocal cords forever, also putting an abrupt end to his career. The shocking diagnosis came in late 2018 following a major tour with the ‘Phonics – the band Kelly formed with childhood friends Richard Jones and the late Stuart Cable in the early 1990s.
“I was diagnosed with a polyp on my vocal cords and then I had to have this surgery,” Jones told radio DJ Chris Moyles back in 2020.
“Then I had to do this recovery for about three months where I couldn’t speak, then I could speak two minutes a day, then five minutes a day then build up to singing again”.
“I felt like I was losing my mind a little bit. I just kept thinking, ‘How the hell am I going to turn this around’?”
Revealing why he didn’t feel like he could say anything about his surgery at the time, Jones went on to add: “I saw it a bit like when you have a football player that comes back after an injury, everybody goes ‘I don’t know. He wasn’t as good as he was before’.
“So I needed to kind of get it all under my belt really before telling anybody, because I didn’t need any added pressure of people saying ‘Oh yeah, you do sound different’ and all that kind of c***”.
Having to keep his surgery a secret from all but his family and close friends, Jones spent two weeks in isolation. He continued to explain: “I wasn’t even able to go out for a walk in case I bumped into anyone and they tried to start up a conversation.
“I was a virtual recluse, other than my parents popping round now and again.”
Although sounding lonely, for Jones the time away from the outside world allowed him to reflect on his hugely successful career.
“I was just left to my own devices, wandering around the house, looking in the attic and going through all the band’s old cuttings and posters. It made me realise how long a journey it’d been,” he recalled.
“So much so that, when I came off that last tour with the ‘Phonics I just wanted to stop, I didn’t want to do any more huge arena shows and all the rest of it.
“I’d been repeating the same ‘make an album, take it on the road’ routine for a long time; 22 years, in fact. That’s over two decades of living on buses and in hotels, and, even though it can be the best job in the world, I just felt done with it.”
Having felt like throwing in the towel before his surgery, shortly afterwards Jones had a change of heart and instead felt like hitting the road on tour more than anything, and explaining the background to the songs he had written over the years.
He explained: “To have the thing you love most taken away from you, just at the point when you thought you wanted to walk away from it… it’s kind of an odd crossroads.
“I’d been getting excited about doing new stuff before I found out about the lump – which turned out to be benign, thankfully. I realised I wanted to do a tour, just me, singing songs and telling stories – explaining the background to all the songs I’ve written over the years.”
A polyp is the name given to a swollen lump, spot or blister that can develop in either one or both of the vocal folds. They develop as a result of excessive friction, which in Jones cases could have been a big yell or cough.
It is important to note the slight difference between a polyp and a nodule. Nodules are benign growths that swell over time and harden. These nodules can get larger and stiffer if your vocal abuse continues causing breathiness, a rough sounding voice and shooting pain from ear to ear.
On the other hand, the NHS explains that over time polyps develop from a slight reddening, to a swelling and then definite nodules. Vocal cord nodules are often compared to calluses on the hands. These develop from blisters which continue to be rubbed in the same place.
Other signs and symptoms of either vocal nodules or polyps include:
- A “scratchy” voice
- A harsh-sounding voice
- Feeling like you have a “lump in your throat”
- Neck pain
- Less ability to change your pitch
- Voice and body tiredness.
Various treatment methods are available for both nodules and polyps, but what method is used depends on how big they are and what other problems the individual is suffering from. Voice therapy is the preferred choice of treatment for nodules to help reduce irritants, change vocal behaviours and regular voice therapy to improve your voice quality.
However, for some individuals surgical intervention is required. Surgical excision of a vocal cord polyp is most precisely performed under general anaesthesia using an operating microscope. The flap of tissue containing the polyp is carefully raised and the contents removed.
Other NHS-approved tips to help manage symptoms caused by polyps or nodules include:
- Avoid excessive voice use
- Try not to talk or shout over background noise
- Rest your voice whenever possible
- Do not force your voice
- Reduce/stop smoking
- Drink plenty of fluids – approximately two litres per day
- Limit alcoholic, caffeinated and fizzy drinks
- Avoid dry, dusty and smoky environments as this could irritate your vocal cords
- Minimise throat clearing and coughing.
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