Blink-182's Mark Hoppus Shares His Cancer Journey in His Own Words

As the Blink-182 bassist turns 50 years old, his words shed light on a year that's gone from life-or-death news to life-affirming reflection

01 of 15

Breaking News

Mark Hoppus, Cancer
Mark Hoppus/Instagram

Mark Hoppus surprised Blink-182 fans — and himself — on June 23, 2021, when he accidentally revealed that he was undergoing cancer treatments for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma stage 4-A. He had intended to post an image of himself at a chemotherapy clinic (captioned "Yes hello. One cancer treatment please") with only a small group of close contacts, but he inadvertently shared it with a million of his followers on social media.

"Maybe part of me subconsciously posted it to my main, but I definitely didn't do it on purpose," he would tell GQ the following December. "But I don't know. It kind of felt like a Band-Aid had been ripped off and I was able to be honest with people."

02 of 15

'Months of Treatment Ahead'

Mark Hoppus
Mark Hoppus. Kevin Winter/Getty

As loved ones, business associates and news outlets began calling, he quickly drafted a statement and posted it to Twitter: "For the past three months I've been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. I have cancer."

He admitted, "It sucks and I'm scared, and at the same time I'm blessed with incredible doctors and family and friends to get me through this."

He continued, "I still have months of treatment ahead of me but I'm trying to remain hopeful and positive. Can't wait to be cancer free and see you all at a concert in the hopefully near future. Love to you all."

03 of 15

Life-Changing News

Hoppus had learned of his diagnosis a few months earlier in the spring of 2021. As someone admittedly fixated on healthy living, he'd come through the global COVID-19 pandemic, had gotten himself and his family vaccinated, and he hoped life would go back to some version of normal.

He visited his doctor to get what he thought was a knot in his shoulder checked out. The news came just as he was entering his first session with a new therapist.

He told GQ, "So I walk into the therapist's office and I'm like, 'Oh, hello. How are you doing? Very nice to meet you. Thanks for making the time—hang on a second. I have to take this call.'"

After he received the news he had an aggressive form of blood cancer, he took a minute to register it, he told GQ. "I was like, 'Okay, cool. Thank you very much.' I hang up the phone and turn to [the therapist]. 'Oh, hi. So, yeah, I have cancer. Where do we start?'"

04 of 15


Mark Hoppus

"I had a really dark time after finding out," he acknowledged to GQ. "I went through this whole period of like, not why me, but of course me. Why wouldn't it be me? We've had so much good luck and good fortune, and things have kind of fallen into place for me specifically for so long, that of course I was due. I was due for something tragic."

05 of 15

Staying Grounded

As he began chemotherapy, Hoppus picked up a token of his journey. "After my first round of chemotherapy, I went out and got a cactus that has this really cool mutation in it," he told GQ. "And I really felt attached to it because that's a mutated plant, and my own mutation happening at the same time."

The crested blue cereus was part of what Hoppus called his "little cancer garden."

"I feel connected to them," he shared on Instagram on July 10. "I sit here in the morning with them, drinking my coffee, and we're like 'well this is weird...'"

06 of 15

Family Reunion

Estevan Oriol/Getty Images.

Hoppus also used his new frame of mind to address some of his relationships, including the distance that had grown between him and Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge in the years since DeLonge first left the band in 2005.

When DeLonge called Hoppus on an unrelated matter in 2021, a few weeks after the lymphoma diagnosis, Hoppus shared his news. Shortly after that, DeLonge went to Hoppus' house and was surprised to find drummer Travis Barker there, too.

"I was like, 'Oh s---, band meeting!" DeLonge told GQ. The trio reminisced and "got into more life stuff. What we've learned over the years about ourselves. How we've grown, how nothing really matters when it boils down to what we were dealing with in that moment. And so, it wasn't some big meeting about Blink-182, it was more about brothers meeting and saying, 'How do we support Mark?'"

Over time, they repaired their relationship, with DeLonge explaining in September 2021: "We're just boys and bands. Women are so much better at this stuff than we are. I always tell my wife, 'Boys are weird because unless it's a big deal, we're either going to fistfight or we're just going to brush it under the rug. There's no gray area.'"

07 of 15

In Treatment

When Hoppus revealed his diagnosis to the world in June, he was in the middle of a punishing course of chemotherapy. He struggled through bouts of depression and doubt — not to mention deep physical discomfort — throughout the summer.

"Chemo is like being on the worst international, overnight flight where you can't sleep or get comfortable. I felt so s--ty," he told GQ.

He posted a photo he'd taken in June to Instagram on Thanksgiving 2021, writing that, at the time he took the photo, he was "halfway through chemo, no idea if it was working or not, relegated to the bathroom floor, retching."

On July 2, he wrote on Twitter: "Everything about chemo sucks except the part where it hopefully saves my life."

08 of 15

Keeping Perspective

The Thanksgiving post also included this coda: "If I ever complain about something trivial or unimportant, please show me this photo to remind me of how bad things can be, and how truly blessed I am."

As summer progressed, his situation was beginning to look up.

"I feel much better than yesterday," he said in an update streamed on Twitch in late June. "Yesterday was hellish for me and I woke up today feeling better. I went for a walk, and I had a decent breakfast, and I haven't felt like I was going to throw up today, so we'll take it as a win."

Later that week, he shared a characteristically wry post on Instagram for American Independence Day, writing, "The Cancer Haver wishes you all a very happy Fourth of July weekend."

He expressed his resolve to "beat" cancer on Twitter July 10, whether "through chemotherapy or through bone marrow transplants, but either way I'm determined to kick cancer's ass directly in the nuts."

Nine days later, he provide another Twitter update: "Scans indicate that the chemo is working! I still have months of treatments ahead, but it's the best possible news. I'm grateful and confused and also sick from last week's chemo. But the poison the doctors pump into me and the kind thoughts and wishes from of people around are destroying this cancer. Just gonna keep fighting..."

09 of 15

'Poor Little Head'

Mark Hoppus chemotherapy
Mark Hoppus. Mark Hoppus/Instagram

Hoppus shared on Aug. 4 via his Instagram Story that he had begun his fifth round of chemo. "Let's heckin go," he wrote on a photo also shared on Twitter.

By the end of the month, he was able to make light of how the treatments had changed his appearance.

"Hahaha. Look at this trash," he captioned a shot of his practically bald head on Instagram. "This is the top of my head right now. This is what God sees when He looks down upon His work and despairs. Cancer-ass head trying to grow back some hair. Awww. Poor little head. Keep your chin up, fighter."

10 of 15

All the Small Things

Hoppus kept himself in good spirits with "chemo day projects" and by cherishing rare moments just for himself. "Today I'm grateful to not be going in for chemotherapy. It's been three weeks since my last treatment," he wrote on Twitter on Sept. 15. "Normally I'd be going in today. 'Normally.' Damn. Getting pumped full of poison every three weeks is my normal."

11 of 15

I Miss You

But of course he couldn't resist keeping fans abreast on the latest hair updates.

"Verified I mean what the s--- is this?" he wrote on Instagram on Sept. 20. "Is my hair growing back white? If it does I wonder if I'll look more like George Clooney or Doc Brown? I feel like this is still the cancery peach fuzz hair and maybe my normal hair will start growing again?"

He acknowledged, "It's so strange to have hair growing back more on my head while my leg hair continues to fall out further and further down, now at the bottom of my shins. I've been in chemotherapy for five months and TODAY the hair on my shins decides it's time to peace out? Cancer is weird."

He gave another update to GQ in December: "My armpit hair is still totally gone, but if you look close, all this white hair is just the shitty cancer hair, and then you can see the actual dark hair growing back in a little bit."

He joked, "I wish I'd had this [bleached look] in the mid-'90s."

12 of 15

Good News

On Sept. 29, after six rounds and nearly half a year fighting for his life, Hoppus announced on Instagram that his oncologist had declared him cancer-free. "Can I get a W in the chat?" he added, referencing the phrase Twitch streamers use to declare a win.

Among the "friends and family" whose support had helped him through his treatments, Hoppus especially leaned on his mother, Kerry Wernz, a three-time cancer survivor.

"Oddly enough, we [had] the exact form of cancer," he shared in July. "And she beat it, so I've been able to talk to her and bond with her quite a bit."

"She's been my greatest resource this whole time," he later told GQ. "Nobody knows what it's like except somebody who's gone through chemotherapy. And so being able to talk to my mom and just be like, 'I feel s----y today. I feel really awful,' and have her be able to say, 'I know what you mean. I've had those days as well....'"

But the days at the end of September were a time for celebration and forging ahead. The day after announcing his cancer-free status, Hoppus half-joked on Twitter, "Dang, remember when I had cancer?! That was weird."

Two weeks later, he underwent surgery to have his chemo port removed.

13 of 15

Back in the Rhythm

Though a low white blood cell count had prevented Hoppus from socializing all summer, he started building up his energy, telling the Twitch stream in late June: "On good days, I go do stuff. I went on a walk outside today and it was the first time I'd left my house in like ... five days pretty much."

As time went on, he "actually watched movies and walked around and cleaned the house and hung out with my dogs," he said. "I didn't just feel like a poisoned electrified zombie leaning up against an electric fence."

On October, he went on Twitter to share that, post-cancer, "I made it to 8pm before going to bed, and I kind of thought to myself 'Dude you crushed it today.'"

And in early November, he shared a few posts on Instagram revealing he'd traveled away on a friend's birthday vacation and even had a breakfast date with his wife, Skye, and a lunch date with his son, Jack.

14 of 15

The Rock Show

mark hoppus
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Hoppus had kicked off November with triumphant return to the stage, joining Barker for a pay-per-view, Halloween-themed House of Horror concert in which they performed Blink-182 favorites including "What's My Age Again?"

The next month, he told GQ had had been "totally overwhelmed with the support and love" from his fans. "People online I have never met [have been] sending support. Cancer survivors of the same lymphoma that I had even put together a video where they covered a Blink song, and it made me cry."

And on Jan. 31, 2022, he shared a sense of renewed creativity as a musician, writing on Twitter that he was "very grateful to be back in the mindset of 'Oh! That's a cool idea for a song lyric, I should write that down.' I haven't felt that in eight months."

15 of 15

Looking to the Future

mark hoppus
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Hoppus, who turned 50 on March 15, 2022, told GQ that one upshot of his cancer battle was that, "I've had a lot of thoughts about my own mortality, a lot of thoughts about what happens when I'm gone."

He added, "I've been listening to 'Adam's Song,' thinking, Yeah, tomorrow holds such better days."

The life-affirming song, which Hoppus wrote back in 1999, predicts that those "better days" will include:
Days when I can still feel alive
When I can't wait to get outside
The world is wide, the time goes by
The tour is over, I've survived

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