In the mid-’70s, the world couldn’t get enough of The Osmonds, the multi-talented family band made up of both teen idols and bonafide musicians. Its members—Merrill, Jay, Wayne, Alan, and Donny Osmond—quickly became household names. Middle brother Wayne Osmond was best known as a singer and lead guitarist, and also played a range of other instruments for the band, including saxophone, violin, banjo, piano, and drums. But the star’s life would take a surprising turn in the mid-’90s, when he learned he had a brain tumor while on tour. Read on to learn how Osmond discovered his first symptom of cancer, and what he learned from his harrowing health scare.
RELATED: John Tesh Says This Was the Sign That His Cancer Had Returned.
In 2004, Osmond told Coping with Cancer Magazine that his first cancer symptom developed when he was on tour with his brothers in 1994. One day, as the quintet was performing in Branson, Missouri and Osmond was playing saxophone, he experienced a sudden, debilitating pain in his head.
“I noticed I couldn’t play my saxophone anymore because my head would start throbbing,” Osmond recalled. “And my knees would fall out from under me when I was on stage. This all began happening within a week.”
RELATED: Two-Time Cancer Survivor Kathy Bates Warns Others Never to Do This.
As soon as Osmond had a break in his touring schedule, he met with his doctor in Utah to discuss his headaches and instability. His physician referred him to a specialist and ordered an MRI to find the source of his symptoms. Upon reviewing the imaging, his doctors “immediately recognized that there was something wrong,” Osmond recalled.
Osmond was diagnosed with ependymoma, a dangerous form of cancer which can affect the brain or spine. The tumor—located in his cerebellum—measured two inches long, and would need to be removed, his doctors said.
Osmond was quickly scheduled for what would turn out to be a 17-hour surgery to remove the mass. “[My doctor] Alan took out the primary tumor, but my cerebellum was full of fingers where the cancer had spread,” Osmond told Coping. “That’s why I was falling over—because the fingers were way up inside. There were hundreds of them. And Alan stood there for hours and hours just pulling out all those little fingers.” The surgery was successful beyond his medical team’s expectations. They were able to remove 97 percent of the cancer, despite the procedure being more complicated than they expected going in.
Osmond followed up his surgery with six weeks of radiation, and returned for a second MRI. The performer recalled the anxious moment when his doctor reviewed those post-surgical scans. “He looked at me and said, ‘Oh yeah. When you first came here and we looked at your MRI, we started calling you Dead Man Walking. But now we are going to start calling you the Miracle Baby; your cancer is gone.'” Six months after his initial diagnosis, Osmond was able to return to the stage.
For more health news sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Now almost 30 years since noticing his first symptoms, Osmond says he’s grateful for the ways his experience shaped his life. “The greatest part of all this is that I’ve become even closer with my sweetheart, Kathy,” he said of his wife. “She’s an absolute angel. I’m a very, very blessed man. That’s what I am,” he told Coping.
The star goes so far as to say he’s “glad” he received the once-devastating diagnosis. “I’ve been enlightened. And now I look back at it and I think to myself, I’m glad that I got cancer. Isn’t that something? It really opened up my eyes. It made me realize that life really is important.”
RELATED: Maria Menounos Says This Was the First Symptom of Her Brain Tumor.