Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson (pictured) penned an open letter to the Finnish band's fans, revealing some devastating news: drummer Jörg Michael has been diagnosed with cancer and has had his entire thyroid removed. Johansson stated that Michael is a consummate fighter and plans to kick cancer's ass. That's what we like to hear.

"I am afraid we have some quite terrible news," Johansson said in the letter. "News of the worst imaginable kind. It's about our friend and drummer Jörg Michael. Jörg has cancer."

He continued, "He recently discovered a lump on his neck, went to the doctor, they decided to operate and found what they call 'a malignant thyroid neoplasm.' They took out his whole thyroid just to have the best chance to get everything out. He will also have to undergo a regimen of radiotherapy. He is a fighter. We have all talked to him and it's clear that this guy is not down for the count. He and his team of German doctors are pissed off and ready to kick ass, and I would not want to be a little cancer cell on these guys' shit list. Believe me. Jörg and his family (and us guys in the band) found this out only last week, after the operation. Naturally we are all going between a lot of emotions -- sadness, worry, shock, confusion, even anger."

The prog titans have a lengthy tour planned with Helloween, which the skinsman will be unable to participate in, as he will be immersed in his recovery process. The shows will go on, which is something that Michael himself advocated.

The Stratovarius letter to fans finished on a note of positivity: "So it turns out that Stratovarius will do the first leg of the Helloween 'Seven Sinner' tour just as planned, only without Jörg behind the kit, but with Jörg very much as a motivator to us being there. Not one single date will be canceled or changed. Jörg wants to be back on the road with us again as soon as possible, depending on the therapy, but we are not making any promises. That one is up to powers even higher than Jörg Michael and his doctors. We will try to keep you somewhat updated.

Anyway, the most important thing is that they think they got all the bad stuff out and that the end result is that we just fix that sentence I wrote above. We will then say, 'Jörg had cancer. But he beat it."

Noisecreep wishes the drummer a speedy and full recovery.