UPDATED: Friday, May 25, 9:50 a.m. EST

"American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips' talent is undeniably inspirational -- but it's his quiet tenacity that is perhaps most moving.

Phillips, 21, suffered chronic problems due to a buildup of kidney stones during the show's season. His father revealed to PEOPLE that since the show began, his son has had eight separate surgeries to remove the stones.

The "Idol" winner was ordered by his doctors to undergo further "immediate" surgery, but he pushed on, even refusing treatment so that he could perform in his home city -- Leesburg, Ga. -- two weeks ago, when the "Idol" contestants returned to honor their hometowns, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Phillips maintained his sense of perseverance and his uplifting attitude in an interview with the Associated Press.

AP: How is your health? Don't you need surgery, like, tomorrow?

Phillips: It's happening tonight. Nah, I'm just kidding. I'm gonna have to get surgery done soon. It's gonna make me feel all better.

AP: What was it like going through this process in that kind of pain?

Phillips: It was really tough, man. I had a lot of great doctors watching after me. ... Sometimes it would be tough to sing and just stand up. It's good to have people around you.

Phillips is slated to have reconstructive surgery on his kidneys and is expected to recovery fully in time for the Idols Live tour, according to PEOPLE.

"The recovery's probably two to four weeks," his dad told the news source. "He's healthy, he's good. His kidneys are good. I can't wait for America and the whole world to see him [after his surgery], because he's a big cut-up. He's going to have some fun."

SEE PHOTOS OF PHILLIPS BELOW: