April 27 -- Rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen admitted for the first time yesterday that he has been battling cancer.
"I'm sorry for having waited so long to address this issue personally. But cancer can be a very unique and private matter to deal with," he wrote to fans in a posting on his band's Web site, www.van-halen.com. Almost a year ago, the Web site posted quotes denying that the famed guitarist was being treated for cancer and that a part of his tongue had been removed.
"I think it's about time to tell you where I'm at," Van Halen's note continued. "I was examined by three oncologists and three head-and-neck surgeons at Cedars Sinai just before spring break and I was told that I'm healthier than ever and beating cancer. Although it's hard to say when, there's a good chance I will be cancer-free in the near future. I just want to thank all of you for your concern and support. Love, Eddie."
Van Halen's publicity reps did not have any information about what kind of cancer the 46-year-old rocker is suffering from.
Van Halen, whose band is currently without a singer, has been followed by rumors that he will reteam with the group's original singer, David Lee Roth, who left the group in 1985.
Roth posted a message on his own Web site (www.davidleeroth.com) today, in response to the news from Van Halen.
"I was stunned this morning to learn Eddie Van Halen has cancer," he wrote. "My condolences. You can whip this champ. See ya down the road, D."