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Heaven & Hell’s Geezer Butler: Dio Waited Too Long to Visit the Doctor

Jay West, WireImage

Just over seven months after the tragic death of Heaven & Hell and Dio frontman Ronnie James Dio, bandmate and bassist Geezer Butler has revealed facts that may make Dio’s passing even more tragic. It didn’t have to happen.

“All the doctors said if he’d have gone in [for a checkup] a year earlier or two years earlier, they could have treated him,” Butler told Noisecreep. “But by the time Ronnie was diagnosed, he had stage four cancer, which was inoperable. The doctor hinted that it was just a matter of time and there was nothing they could do.”

It wasn’t as if Dio was completely in the dark about the preventative measures, either. Less than a year before Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer, Heaven & Hell guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Vinny Appice both underwent routine colonoscopies to check for signs of colon and intestinal cancer, and they were talking about the procedure in one of the band’s rehearsals.

“Vinny had just had it done and he couldn’t sit down on his drum stool, and I was making arrangements to have it done, and Ronnie was going, ‘Oh, I’m never going to have anything like that,'” Butler said. “If he’d have gone in at the same time as everyone else, they’d have caught it before the tour. If he had regular check ups …”

Butler paused and took a deep breath, then continued. “All the doctors said if it had been stage one, they could have dealt with it. It’s really upsetting to think about that, and hopefully it will encourage people who need to have a check up to get it done.”

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