Cancer has been part of my world for a long time.
In 1995 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and thankfully went into spontaneous remission. Since 2006 I’ve been living well with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia thanks to the fantastic care I’ve received from NHS teams in North Wales. In 2016 my wife, Jules, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Jules and I have always focussed on the positives when dealt with these devastating diagnoses, and during the treatment we’ve received and the relapses we’ve faced over the past 28 year, but 2022 tested our resolve unlike any other.
This time last year, back in September 2022, I was lying in bed in hospital unable to move and being pumped full of various medications having been told I had relapsed. My voice and energy which I rely on as a musician were shot, and my optimism was waning. I couldn’t feel positive because initially the doctors around me were unable to share anything to help me feel better mentally or physically.
For years music had been my escape to forget about cancer and live in the moment, but for a few weeks I could not escape cancer, and living in the moment was testing, painful and extremely tough not just for me, but for all my loved ones.
Fast forward one year, and I am back. Positive, focussed on the future and ready to show a very heartfelt thank you to all those who cared for me, who lifted me up, and who helped me never lose hope completely.
For me, it’s not about where I’ve been, it’s about where I am going - and when I describe where I’m going, I hope you will figuratively come with me, because together we are going to save lives, one step, one concert and one helping hand at a time.
Before the end of this year, 2023, I am going to raise $100,000 specifically for the Tanzania Children’s Cancer Service, operated by Tumaini La Maisha (TLM), in the Muhimbili National Hospital.
When TLM first started its services in 2005, 10 children in Tanzania developed cancer every day, and 9 out of these 10 children would lose their battle with cancer. Only 120 children were treated back in 2005, but by 2022 956 were treated that year.
Back in 2011, the Love Hope Strength Foundation funded new premises for the cancer service: the two wards and hotel in the children’s cancer unit in the hospital are still to this day called ’Upendo, Tumaini, and Ujasiri’, Swahili for Love, Hope and Strength.
Today, thanks to the dedication of the clinical teams and volunteers at the hospital, the survival rate for children with cancer is 50%, with over 700% increase in treatments. Despite these incredible improvements over the past 18 years, TLM really need our help right now.
Due to changes in funding from the hospital, the Tanzania Children’s Cancer Service is currently totally reliant on charitable funding for the cost of all scans and surgery as well as chemotherapy, transportation, staff wages including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and nutritionist salaries. Families have become aware that these costs may need to be passed on to them now, so less people are presenting with symptoms: there has been a 25% drop in the number of patient referrals into the cancer service since last year because families are scared of the hospital bills they may face. Children with cancer are dying unnecessarily, and they need our help.
The $100,000 we raise will help treat more than 100 young patients, providing the following funding:
$30,000 for chemotherapy drugs to provide timely and effective treatment
$40,000 to service and maintain a flow cytometry machine, an essential diagnostic tool for identifying and monitoring cancer cells to ensure accurate diagnoses and improve treatment planning for patients
$30,000 medical staff in the Muhimbili National Hospital and the Kilimanjaro Medical Centre
Thankfully, the $100,000 target isn’t as daunting as it sounds. The wonderful Beauchamp Family Foundation are providing the Love Hope Strength Foundation with a $50,000 match fund. This means that for every $1 / £1 you give, the doctors in Tanzania will receive $2 / £2 to provide care and treatment to their most vulnerable young patients.
Music is my escape to forget about cancer and live in the moment, and so too is hiking. Taking in beautiful scenery, breathing fresh air and walking and talking with likeminded people is good for the soul. That’s why I’ve decided to Rock the Alps - visiting stunning locations on challenging hikes in Switzerland and France with a group of 35 other Love Hope Strength supporters - from 20-24th September. We are going places to put smiles on faces of those families in Tanzania.
And next year, when we have reached our target, I plan to go visit the team in Tanzania and go to the hospital I first visited in 2011, so I can see exactly how our donations are saving lives. You are very welcome to join me on what I imagine will be a life-affirming trip.
Please sponsor the steps I take on my Alps adventure, so that together we can help those children who so need our support right now. Or please organise your own hike or another fundraiser to help, or tell others about what we are doing.
Love, hope and strength: it’s what got me through last year, and it’s what will help these families in Tanzania in their own time of need.
Thank you for supporting me when I needed you most, and now thank you for supporting these wonderful children in Tanzania when they need our help most.
Forwards, Mike x
Please note: if you are in the USA and wish to give tax effectively, please donate to the LHS 501(c)(3) here: