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Former Beatle "feeling fine" after stay at Swiss cancer clinic

Former Beatle George Harrison is in his third battle against cancer

(Keystone Archive)

Former Beatle George Harrison says he is "feeling fine" after receiving treatment for a brain tumour at a Swiss cancer clinic. A Sunday newspaper first reported that Harrison had been treated at a clinic in Bellinzona in southern Switzerland.

In a statement to the media following weekend rumours about his state of health, Harrison said he was "really sorry for the unnecessary worry which has been caused by the reports appearing in the press".

Harrison was in Bellinzona in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino during May and June for radiotherapy at the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland. He had rented a house in Luino in Italy, a 40-minute drive from Bellinzona, during the cobalt radiation treatment.

Franco Cavalli, a Swiss cancer specialist coordinating Harrison's treatment at the clinic, confirmed the former Beatle had been a patient.

"Harrison successfully completed this course of treatment more than a month ago," he said, "and we foresee no need for further treatment here."

The treatment is Harrison's third battle against the disease in the past few years. Earlier this year, he had a cancer-like sore removed from his lungs at the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

Harrison overcame throat cancer in 1998, which he blamed on smoking. He was given the all-clear after radiation therapy.

Just over 18 months ago, the 58-year-old guitarist and singer survived a life-and-death struggle of a different kind, when a knife-wielding intruder stabbed him in the chest at his home near London.

The former Beatle was almost killed and only the actions of his wife, Olivia, who struck the attacker over the head with a poker and table lamp, saved him.

Harrison was known as the "quiet Beatle" when he was the lead guitarist for the band during their heyday in the 1960s. "I guess if you've got to be in a rock group it might as well be the Beatles," he once quipped.

Harrison was rated as a major musician in his own right only after the break-up of the "Fab Four". During their time together, he had lived for many years in the shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and was liberated by the band's break-up in 1970.

He soon released a treble album "All Things Must Pass" which proved his worth as both a guitarist and song-writer, and enjoyed a worldwide smash hit with "My Sweet Lord".

In the 1980s he produced films through his own company, HandMade Films, and joined Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty to found the popular Travelling Wilburys in the 1990s.

swissinfo with agencies

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