That Head­less Chicken is one tough rooster

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - DANI MCDON­ALD

Kiwi mu­si­cian Grant Fell has just learnt he is cancer-free and has been en­joy­ing a few beers to cel­e­brate.

And both he and his wife, Rachael Church­ward, are adamant his suc­cess is a re­sult of a strict diet elim­i­nat­ing sugar and car­bo­hy­drates.

With the help of their on­col­o­gist, they say they in­te­grated a weekly chemo­ther­apy dose with a ke­to­genic diet - that forces the body to burn fats rather than car­bo­hy­drates - which in­cluded con­sum­ing frank­in­cense, turmeric and sea cu­cum­ber.

The for­mer bass player in 90s alt-pop band Head­less Chick­ens and co-ed­i­tor of fash­ion mag­a­zine Black now plans to pub­lish a book about his jour­ney.

‘‘Just to share the knowl­edge that I’ve learned – it might help some other peo­ple,’’ he said.

News of Fell’s glioblas­toma – a can­cer­ous brain tu­mour – rocked the mu­sic and fash­ion com­mu­nity in 2015.

They ral­lied be­hind him, rais­ing $11,000 from a fundraiser at Pon­sonby pub Golden Dawn, and $40,000 from a Givealit­tle page.

It’s been two and a half weeks since Fell learned his cancer was in re­mis­sion. He’s spent some of those days en­joy­ing a few beers in the sun while lis­ten­ing to his favourite soul/funk mu­sic.

But mostly, he’s been learn­ing to walk again and let­ting the news sink in.

‘‘There were many times when I thought I wouldn’t make it,’’ he said.

‘‘More re­cently I was pre­par­ing to go into pal­lia­tive care be­cause I was so hard to look af­ter. I thought my life was go­ing to end and I thought I’d go into a home to make it eas­ier for my wife.’’

Church­ward spent days and nights re­search­ing and car­ing for Fell while mea­sur­ing his fat and pro­tein in­take.

‘‘It’s made me stronger – I’m pretty strong any­way – but it’s made me re­alise that I can ac­tu­ally do a lot more than I thought I could,’’ she said.

New Zealand Mu­sic Foun­da­tion gen­eral man­ager Peter Dick­ens said Fell’s ‘‘in­no­va­tive and brave ap­proach’’ to his health was typ­i­cal of his cre­ative knack – a legacy that con­tin­ued af­ter his in­volve­ment with the Head­less Chick­ens.

The foun­da­tion pro­vides emer­gency as­sis­tance to Kiwi mu­si­cians and their fam­i­lies.

‘‘The con­tri­bu­tion that Head­less Chick­ens made to NZ mu­sic can’t be over­stated,’’ Dick­ens said.

‘‘What a lot of peo­ple don’t know about Grant was that he also directed their mu­sic videos, so his in­flu­ence stretches far be­yond gui­tar play­ing, it is his whole ap­proach to his cre­ative ef­forts and his ef­forts in mu­sic.’’

It’s ex­pected to be an­other two years be­fore Fell is back, fully func­tion­ing.


Head­less Chick­ens front­man Grant Fell, seen here with wife Rachael Church­ward, says a diet high in fats and low in car­bo­hy­drates helped him beat cancer.

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