Sheepdogs drummer undergoes radiation treatment

Despite just starting radiation treatments Sheepdogs drummer Sam Corbett is already planning his return to the band.

But Sam Corbett says he'll be back laying down the beat for The Sheepdogs in the new year

Sam Corbett has started radiation treatment but plans to be back with The Sheepdogs by the start of 2019. (The Sheepdogs/Facebook)

Despite just starting radiation treatments, Sheepdogs drummer Sam Corbett is already planning his return to the band.

"My goal right now is to hopefully get a New Year's Eve show," Corbett told Saskatchewan Weekend's Shauna Powers.

"We don't have anything booked yet but I'm hoping to be playing live at that point and then for the next year, 2019, be back in action full time."

It's something you never want to hear from your doctor: a cancer diagnosis. But that's what happened for Sam Corbett this summer after a lump he'd found got checked out. He had the tumour removed and is undergoing radiation treatments for the next few weeks. In the short term, Sam has to stay close to home while his band mates tour in support of their latest album, but he hopes to be back behind his drum kit by the new year. 9:41

The Saskatoon drummer was diagnosed with cancer during the summer and underwent surgery to remove a tumour.

"I felt a lump and ended up going to the doctor," Corbett said of his first inkling something was wrong.

"I was hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. As soon as I found out I wanted to call the other guys in the band and let them know what's up. Just try to figure out the best way to move forward from there."

The Sheepdogs are currently on tour in the United States. (The Sheepdogs/Facebook)

The band had to cancel a couple of shows in the summer and reschedule because of the surgery.

Then he found out the cancer had spread.

With the band about to embark on their Changing Colours Tour through the U.S. and Europe they had to find a replacement for Corbett.

"When I found out it was Stage 2 cancer and it had moved into lymph nodes I realized I had to do more treatment and bow out of some shows and find a replacement drummer," Corbett said.

"We've been a band for 14 year and I've never not been a part of one of those shows. So that was pretty tough.

"[But] good friends of the band have been subbing in for me and that made everything a lot easier."

Corbett has drawn inspiration from Sheepdogs' bassist Ryan Gullen's late father.

"His dad had cancer and passed away this summer. He had such a super positive attitude and whoever visited him he ended up cheering them up," Corbett said.

He said the first day of his radiation treatment was pretty rough, but it has been getting better.

"I've got some anti-nausea pills to help deal with it," Corbett said. "I've also heard that the effect of the radiation I'm taking has a cumulative effect. And I have to take it for three weeks so I might be feeling a lot worse a couple weeks from now. I'm trying to take it as it comes the best I can."

He said the response from fans—as well as from his friends and family—has been overwhelming. 

"My wife has been amazing," he said. "She has taken off work to take care of me."

Corbett has been told it could take at least a month after he finishes his radiation treatments to feel normal.

"But I'll probably try to sneak in some [drum] sessions before that or play on a practice pad or play on my legs."

He said his type of cancer has a 96 per cent survival rate and Corbett plans to be back behind his Sheepdogs drum kit in a couple of months.

"I've had a lucky life so far, being able to do what I love...to be a musician and do all the cool stuff we have done," he said.

"Given my diagnosis it's pretty likely I'll be around for quite a bit longer. If this whole experience leads me to live the rest of my life in a more appreciative fashion I think it would be hard to not see it as somewhat of a positive experience."