Jim Cregan, Rod Stewart's longtime collaborator, has had to cancel a month-long tour of England with his band Cregan & Co. due to the revelation that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The guitarist announced the news yesterday (Feb. 21) on the band’s Facebook page. In his statement, he stressed the importance of getting checked regularly for the disease.

'We’ve found cancer in your prostate'.

And with those six words a whole new world opened up.

Like a lot of guys, my life is paved with good intentions. My dear friend Ian Wallace, who played drums for so many famous names (Bob Dylan, Don Henley, etc.) said to us all before he died, “Get checked out, before it’s too late”. And of course, true to form, I did absolutely nothing. I used to work on the principle that if I had a few stiff drinks each day, germs couldn’t live in my body. Fast forward to last year when another old pal, drummer Kenney Jones (the Faces, the Who) asked me to join him in a Charity Event called “Rock 'N' Horsepower” benefiting Prostate Cancer U.K.. Of course I said yes and then I realized Kenney was in treatment at the time for the disease. Happily he is recovering very well. But did I get checked? … not likely.

[…]

So here we are. As of today I’m waiting for the final results of an MRI which will tell the doctors how to treat it. How do I feel? Confused, worried, hopeful, and more in touch with what matters than a few weeks ago. The outpouring of love and kindness from so many people is an eye opener. It’s a time when you’ll find out who are your real friends…

Cregan expressed his optimism for a complete recovery, adding that his gigs booked for May and June — one of which, coincidentally, is a benefit for Prostate Cancer U.K. with Jones.

Originally the guitarist in British psychedelic prog band Family, Cregan joined Stewart's band in 1976 and played on Foot Loose and Fancy Free a year later. They have written many songs together, including the hits “Passion” and “Forever Young,” the latter of which won a Grammy, and Cregan has served as Stewart’s musical director and co-producer. Stewart credited him with helping revive his songwriting chops that led to 2013’s Time. “He’s my annoying mate I’ve known all me life” Stewart said. “He’d always bring his guitar around, pestering me with his chords.”