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5 October 2019, 10:45 | Updated: 5 October 2019, 14:57
Sir Elton John has revealed he had prostate cancer - and was 24 hours from death after catching an infection following surgery.
The singer, 72, had been touring in South America in 2017 when he had to rush to the UK after feeling "worse than I ever had in my life".
According to a new autobiography, Me, serialised in the Daily Mail, Sir Elton said: "I was taken to King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where I had a scan.
"I was told that my condition was so serious, the hospital didn't have the equipment to cope with it.
"I had to be moved to the London Clinic... By 2.30pm, I was on the operating table, having more lymphatic fluid drained - this time from my diaphragm.
"For two days afterwards, I was in intensive care. When I came round, they told me I'd contracted a major infection in South America, and that they were treating it with massive intravenous doses of antibiotics.
"But the fever came back. They took a sample of the infection... it was much more serious than they'd first realised.
"There were MRI scans and God knows how many other procedures. The doctors told David I was 24 hours away from death. If the South American tour had gone on for another day that would have been it: brown bread."
Sir Elton's management company announced in 2017 that he had to cancel eight US shows between April and May due to a "harmful and unusual bacterial infection", but what had led to the bug was not revealed at the time.
The infection took hold months after he had an operation for the cancer in that year, which he said he opted for to avoid dozens of trips to hospital.
Soon after, he played a series of gigs in Las Vegas, during which he developed incontinence.
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Doctors managed to fix the problem and he celebrated his 70th birthday in Los Angeles in Hollywood with a host of stars.
Elton said he realised that if he carried on touring he would miss many of the key moments in the lives of his children, Zachary and Elijah, and decided to go on the road for a farewell worldwide series of concerts.
He said as he lay in hospital he had prayed and pleaded not to die and to be able to see his children.
"The time I spent recuperating was the answer to my prayers," he wrote.
"It was like being shown a different life, a life I realised I loved more than being on the road. Music was the most wonderful thing, but it still didn't sound as good as Zachary chattering about what had happened at Cubs or football practice."
The star is currently midway through a 229-date worldwide tour, which he says will be his last.
He has had to cancel a number of further dates due to illness, including one show in Orlando in November 2018, due to an ear infection, and Verona in May due to flu.