Michael Flatley, known for his “Riverdance” show, announced he has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Flatley, 64, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side and won the middleweight division of the Chicago Golden Gloves Boxing Championship when he was a teenager, was invited to help create an intermission show for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. He performed “Riverdance,” which lasted seven minutes. He then pushed for it to become a full-length show, which starred him and Jean Butler.
In 1995, he was fired, but said, “I just wanted control over the work that I had created myself. That’s all. I don’t think that that’s too much to ask. I felt like I built it and they took it, and that’s the end of it… and it hurt.” He then created “Lord of the Dance.”
Flatley, who is married with one son, was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in 2003. On Wednesday, Flatley’s Instagram account released a statement of his current condition, writing:
Dear friends, we have something personal to share, Michael Flatley has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He has undergone surgery and is in the care of an excellent team of doctors. No further comments will be made at this time. We ask only for your prayers and well wishes. Thank you.
After Flatley’s melanoma was discovered by an MTV viewer who saw symptoms on him in 2003, he told the Irish Independent, “It was purely by chance that it was noticed. I had never even noticed it…it can be a frightening place to be.”
In 2021, he recalled, “So many people who surround me have had cancer and so many people I know have died from it. We were at the fifth anniversary of ‘Lord of the Dance’ in Las Vegas and I did an interview with MTV. Somebody watched the interview and brought it to the attention of my personal assistant and said: ‘Did you ever notice the brown spot on the side of Michael’s face?’”
“I had never even noticed it,” he remembered. “They advised me to go and have it looked at. I did and the doctor took a sample of it there and then. I was flying to Barbados the next day and he gave me a call and asked me to come and see him. I said I was leaving for the airport and would he mind if I called him when I got back. He said, ‘No, I need you to come in immediately.’ That was a little scary. I canceled the flight and went straight in to see him. He said if I had let it go a few more weeks there was probably nothing he could have done for me.”