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Michael Flatley’s team appeal to fans for ‘prayers and well wishes’ after Riverdance icon, 64, reveals he is fighting an ‘aggressive’ form of cancer and has undergone surgery

  • Michael has undergone surgery and is currently being cared for by doctors
  • A statement was shared to his social media accounts tonight
  • The star was diagnosed before Christmas with an unspecified type of cancer
  • He is recuperating from the surgery with his wife, Niamh, and son, Michael Jnr 
  • It is unknown if the diagnosis is linked to his previous battle with skin cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2003
  • Michael previously spoke about how the diagnosis gave him ‘tremendous focus’ 

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Michael Flatley has revealed he has been diagnosed with an ‘aggressive’ form of cancer, in a statement shared to his social media accounts tonight.

According to the release, the Riverdance star, 64, has undergone surgery and is currently being cared for by a team of doctors in hospital.

A statement shared to Michael’s Instagram page, reads: ‘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. Teamlord.’ 

Statement: Michael Flatley has revealed he has been diagnosed with an 'aggressive' form of cancer , in a statement shared to his social media accounts tonight

Statement: Michael Flatley has revealed he has been diagnosed with an ‘aggressive’ form of cancer , in a statement shared to his social media accounts tonight

Social media release: According to the release, the Riverdance star, 64, has undergone surgery and is currently being cared for by a team of doctors in hospital

Social media release: According to the release, the Riverdance star, 64, has undergone surgery and is currently being cared for by a team of doctors in hospital 

Alongside the message, the team shared a black and white image of Michael looking out to sea while stood on a beach.  

The Lord Of The Dance star was diagnosed before Christmas with an unspecified type of cancer, it has been reported.

Michael – known by his nickname the Celtic Tiger – is currently recuperating from the surgery with his wife, Niamh, 44, and son, Michael Jnr, 15, by his side.

It is unknown if the diagnosis is linked to his previous battle with skin cancer. Michael was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in 2003, which he revealed eight years ago for the first time.

Sad news: The Lord Of The Dance star revealed he had been diagnosed before Christmas with an unspecified type of cancer (pictured performing Lord Of The Dance in 2015)

Sad news: The Lord Of The Dance star revealed he had been diagnosed before Christmas with an unspecified type of cancer (pictured performing Lord Of The Dance in 2015)

He explained to the Irish Independent at the time: ‘It was purely by chance that it was noticed. I had never even noticed it…it can be a frightening place to be.’

Michael’s melanoma was spotted by an MTV viewer who noticed the symptoms of his condition during a television appearance.

Speaking about the experience, he said: ‘So many people who surround me have had cancer and so many people I know have died from it.

Family life: Michael pictured with his wife Niamh at the Pride Of Britain in 2015

Family life: Michael pictured with his wife Niamh at the Pride Of Britain in 2015

‘I was diagnosed with skin cancer myself and it was a very scary time. I sympathise with anybody who is lying on that bed and facing the uncertainty of the future. It can be a frightening place.

‘It was a malignant melanoma that I was diagnosed with. It was around 2003 and it was purely by chance that it was noticed.’

He continued: ‘We were at the fifth anniversary of Lord of the Dance in Las Vegas and I did an interview with MTV.

Treatment: Michael was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in 2003. He confirmed the news eight years ago before speaking out about it in 2021

 Treatment: Michael was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in 2003. He confirmed the news eight years ago before speaking out about it in 2021

‘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.

‘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’.

Unit: Michael - known by his nickname the Celtic Tiger - is currently recuperating from the surgery with his wife, Niamh, 44, and son, Michael Jnr, 15, by his side (pictured in 2015)

Unit: Michael – known by his nickname the Celtic Tiger – is currently recuperating from the surgery with his wife, Niamh, 44, and son, Michael Jnr, 15, by his side (pictured in 2015)

‘That was a little scary. I cancelled 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.’

Michael previously spoke about how his 2003 cancer diagnosis changed his outlook on life, specifically his wealth and material possessions.

He said: ‘If I was in a position to go for everything, that intensified. And the value of friends, the value of loved ones — all of a sudden, material things faded away into the past.’

He told Russell Davies on BBC Radio 2: ‘My art and the people that I spend time with, are the things that I love most now. Cancer certainly gave me tremendous focus.’

Support: Following the news, fans quickly rushed to send messages of support to the American-Irish dancer, with one person writing that they were 'sending prayers'

Support: Following the news, fans quickly rushed to send messages of support to the American-Irish dancer, with one person writing that they were ‘sending prayers’

Following the news, fans quickly rushed to send messages of support to the American-Irish dancer, with one person writing that they were ‘sending prayers.’

A second said: ‘So sorry to be reading this news. Michael your a fighter, you can beat this sending lots of love and prayers to you and your family.’ 

Another person said: ‘Keep fighting Michael my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family xx Keep your feet moving X.’

A third said ‘Get well soon. Everything will be fine!’

Another person, who had themselves battled cancer, said: ‘As a cancer survivor, all I can say is trust in your medical team and keep positive, There are so many new medications available now, thanks to all the research.’

One other, wrote: ‘So sorry to hear the new I’m a huge fan and I hope you recover.’

Charity work: Michael has been very active on his Instagram page over the past few days, most recently posting just a day ago following a trip to the new premises for the National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Charity work: Michael has been very active on his Instagram page over the past few days, most recently posting just a day ago following a trip to the new premises for the National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Another said: ‘So sorry to hear this Michael. You have fought so many hard battles in your life and you will fight this too. You are in all our thoughts and prayers. Sending love to you and your family at this difficult time. Be strong Michael.’

Michael has been very active on his Instagram page over the past few days, most recently posting just a day ago following a trip to the new premises for the National Council for the Blind of Ireland

Michael is a noted charity campaigner. The Chicago-born dancer has hosted special Christmas parties for vulnerable children at his home in north Cork.

In 2003 received a special award from the Prince Rainier of Monaco for his support of various charities, including many dedicated to cancer research.

Dear Friends: Michael's team also shared the message on his Instagram Stories

Dear Friends: Michael’s team also shared the message on his Instagram Stories

The choreographer shot to fame in the Irish dancing production Riverdance, which was first performed as a seven-minute interval break at Eurovision in 1994. 

After the success of Riverdance at Eurovision, it was extended into a full-length show and opened at Dublin’s Point Theatre in 1995.

Michael, who was born into a blue-collar Irish-American family in Chicago, followed up with his own stage show, Lord Of The Dance.

He has also created, produced and directed other productions including Feet Of Flames and Celtic Tiger.

Michael has also expanded into film, directing and starring in the 2018 spy thriller Blackbird.

In the movie, which also stars Eric Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Ian Beattie, Michael plays former MI6 operative Victor Blackley, who is drawn back into the world of espionage he had left behind.

Film: Michael has also expanded into film, directing and starring in the 2018 spy thriller Blackbird

Film: Michael has also expanded into film, directing and starring in the 2018 spy thriller Blackbird

The movie was criticised for its long-awaited release, but Michael has since revealed there is already a sequel in the works. 

After seeing his movie hit cinemas, he said: ‘It feels fantastic, I’m delighted. If I told you the amount of people who told me it was impossible, I’ve lost count.

‘You can’t do it. It’s impossible. But somehow against the odds we did it and I’m glad we did.

‘I’m delighted and quite proud of the fact we have a lot of actors in it that never had an opportunity and some young producers which is good.’

Michael retired due to injury after a performance in Las Vegas on St Patrick’s Day in March 2017. 

After putting his body through the ringer for decades, the star admitted to the Daily Mail at the time that his body just couldn’t take anymore.

He admitted: ‘I am always in pain. Agony. Every morning my poor wife [Niamh O’Brien] has to witness me spending the first few minutes of the day trying to straighten my back and push my legs to start working.

‘I’ve wrecked my body with dance. I can’t say I wasn’t warned and I can’t say I haven’t loved every single minute of putting myself into this state.

‘But physically I’m a mess. I have a recurring broken bone in my right foot which just spontaneously breaks itself.

‘My hamstrings are ruined, my groin is gone and I’ve done irreparable damage to two points of my spine.’

Last year Michael also launched a Lord Of The Dance tour to raise money for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.

Throwback: After the success of Riverdance at Eurovision, it was extended into a full-length show and opened at Dublin's Point Theatre in 1995

Throwback: After the success of Riverdance at Eurovision, it was extended into a full-length show and opened at Dublin’s Point Theatre in 1995

Ex-wife: Michael was previously married to Beata Dziaba for 8 years from 1986

Ex-wife: Michael was previously married to Beata Dziaba for 8 years from 1986

Last year, Michael revealed his ‘neck and back are in a bad way’ and detailed how his body is paying the price for the punishment he put it through.

He also said that you have to ‘make a friend of pain in the dance business’, but believes he ‘made the right decision’.

‘The doctors warned me but I didn’t listen. Now my neck and my back are in a bad way,’ Michael told the Mirror.

He continued: ‘I wouldn’t trade it. I followed my dream. I wouldn’t have any of this if I didn’t follow my dream.

‘You have to make a friend of pain, especially in the dance business, and even though I wake up and struggle to straighten my back every morning, I can honestly say I’ve made the right decision. 

Battered: Last year, Michael revealed his 'neck and back are in a bad way' and detailed how his body is paying the price for the punishment he put it through

Battered: Last year, Michael revealed his ‘neck and back are in a bad way’ and detailed how his body is paying the price for the punishment he put it through

Lord Of the Dance: He alo said that you have to 'make a friend of pain in the dance business', but believes he 'made the right decision' (pictured in 2001)

Lord Of the Dance: He alo said that you have to ‘make a friend of pain in the dance business’, but believes he ‘made the right decision’ (pictured in 2001)

‘Can I run for a bus now? Unlikely. Can I scale a flight of stairs? Yes, I just need a lot more runway to get warmed up.’

 The star revealed his lower spine and joints in his pelvis are ‘bad’ while he also suffers from a torn right calf muscle, two ruptured Achilles’ tendons and a broken bone in one foot that ‘doesn’t seem to ever heal.’

He added that he needs his two shoulders replacing and has fractured ribs which affect his sleep.  

In 1989 he entered the Guinness Book Of Records for possessing the fastest feet (once insured for a reported £25million) in the world, tapping 28 times per second. He later bettered that, managing 35 taps.

Hot on the heels of Riverdance, which he had left within a year after a row over royalties, he created Lord Of The Dance, which opened in Dublin in 1996.

Wow! n 1989 he entered the Guinness Book Of Records for possessing the fastest feet (once insured for a reported £25million)

Wow! n 1989 he entered the Guinness Book Of Records for possessing the fastest feet (once insured for a reported £25million)

He then toured the world, playing to 60 million people in 60 countries and becoming one of the most successful dance shows ever (in 1997 alone Michael earned £36million). 

In 2006 he wed former dancer Niamh O’Brien there; it was his second marriage and produced his son Michael.

Growing up in a Catholic household Michael’s passion was always Irish dance, and he too was a flautist who performed with Grammy-winning Irish folk band The Chieftains.

When they turned down his plea to join the group full-time, he went off in a huff to seek his own spotlight, and says he ‘didn’t make a penny’ until he was 35. 

Tap: In 1989 he entered the Guinness Book Of Records for possessing the fastest feet in the world, tapping 28 times per second. He later bettered that, managing 35 taps (pictured in 2015)

Tap: In 1989 he entered the Guinness Book Of Records for possessing the fastest feet in the world, tapping 28 times per second. He later bettered that, managing 35 taps (pictured in 2015)

Source: Daily Mail UK

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