December 14, 2011 12:00 PM

A year ago around this time, things weren’t looking too good for Montgomery Gentry. Eddie Montgomery had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his wife had served him with divorce papers, and, as if that weren’t already enough to make a sad country song, the duo were also shopping for a new record deal after parting ways with Sony, their label for more than a decade. “I was not in a good place,” says Montgomery, 48. “You can’t believe it when a doctor tells you you have cancer. I just stared at the walls in my house. My father died of prostate cancer, and I thought I was going to die also.”

But finding the cancer early was a blessing, says Montgomery-and a complete accident. “My son had a four-wheeler wreck and trashed his shoulder, so I took him to a bone specialist,” he recalls. “At the same time I was trying to get back into exercising, but my hip kept hurting, so I asked the doctor about it, and he offered to take an X-ray.” When the doctor came in with the results, he pulled Montgomery aside and said he had found a shadow and that he needed to see a prostate doctor immediately. Luckily, the cancer was treatable with surgery. Now “I’m 100 percent cancer-free,” reports Montgomery.

His road to recovery doesn’t stop there. “I’m dating and having a great time,” he says. The duo also have a new record deal and a new album, Rebels on the Run. “It was a little bit of a scary transition, but it’s been a breath of fresh air,” says bandmate Troy Gentry, 44. “I see a new spark in Eddie, and there’s a new chemistry. … We’re closer because of all we’ve been through.”

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