drummer Steve FrenchAfter a bout with cancer, Steve French is happily back at in the saddle with country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. About a year ago French discovered a very small bump on his neck. Doctors said it was, “nothing,” but French continued to pursue an answer. Finally he had the lump removed, only to find out it was indeed cancerous. “It was nothing I could really see, but something I could feel,” explains the forty-two-year-old.

French went through some tough times dealing with all of the therapy that followed. “I couldn’t eat anything for months,” he admits, “and I went from 182 pounds to 127. I missed a lot of shows with Billy. But there is a happy ending, because I went through the whole treatment and now I’m fine.”

Cyrus held the job open for French while his drum tech, Billy Copeland, took over while he recuperated. “Other than the fact that he doesn’t sing, he did a great job, and I’m so thankful for that. If Billy had to hire someone from the outside, it might have been harder for me to get my job back. Everything went as smoothly as possible.”

Although he has another four years to go to be officially pronounced cancer-free, French, who lives in West Virginia, says he’s feeling very optimistic. “I appreciate my life a whole lot more now.”