ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE—AND HOPE AND STRENGTH
ONE ORGANIZATION USES MUSIC TO FIGHT CANCER ON THE GLOBAL STAGE
There, we said it.
The World Health Organization says that cancer is among the
leading killers worldwide. So then,
just what are we doing
about it on the global level? The
founders of the Love Hope Strength
Foundation (LHS) asked
that very question before they set their sights
on saving lives far and wide. And just how do they endeavor to get the
word out? Through the international language of music.
Here, Shannon Foley, the Love Hope Strength Foundation’s executive director, sings the praises of this noteworthy organization with an ambition rivaled only by its ability to perform.
THE FAMILY GROOVE
: The mission of LHS is impressive and ambitious in scope. What influenced its founders, Mike Peters and James Chippendale, to create the organization and set its goals so high?
: LHS co-founder James Chippendale (also president of CSI Entertainment Insurance
, one of the country’s largest entertainment and sports insurance brokers) was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia in March of 2000, but survived it after three rounds of intense chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant from a German donor named Klaus Kaiser. Mike Peters, the lead singer and songwriter for The Alarm
, is a two-time cancer survivor, once in 1995 when he battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and more recently in 2006 when he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Mike and James co-founded the foundation in 2007 after the two met through a mutual friend. The two came together with the same belief in mind: that awareness, early detection and proper treatment should be available to people no matter where they live or who they are. James and Mike have since made it their mission to find a way to ensure that all people have access to the same resources that saved their lives.
: What are the short-term and long-term goals for the organization?
: Cancer is a global issue in need of support from a worldwide network. The Love Hope Strength Foundation is working hard to become a worldwide leader in the global fight against cancer. Our mission is to save lives, right now, using our funds to purchase medical equipment and supplies; raise awareness through special events, documentaries and media; build cancer centers; and find bone marrow donors. In the short term, we are going to provide help to Sub-Saharan Africa through Kilimanjaro Rocks and other initiatives. Longer term, we plan to create an online global network for doctors, clinics, patients and caregivers. This will be a place where they can find the resources available in their area and reach out for support and information about their disease. We have our sights on supporting or building one cancer center in every country, one concert at a time. We hope that through our devotion to this cause, the number of people who needlessly die of cancer will begin to diminish.
: What has struck you about the ties that bind the cancer patients, survivors and supporters from country to country?
: Because it is very hard to find someone on this earth not impacted by cancer in one form or another, all cancer patients, survivors and supporters have a unique set of circumstances that shape their story. However, there are some striking similarities in survivors; they are usually inspired, living-in-the-moment type people. They have literally realized a second chance on life and it shows. For those currently battling cancer, there is a full range of emotion, from sadness to anger to hope to savoring their time.
There is a huge difference in perspective based on culture. In Peru, we met with rural villagers who didn’t realize free cancer treatment existed in their country. In Nepal, we found patients leaving the country to seek better treatment in neighboring countries. We found that they focused a great deal on palliative care since treatments were not advanced enough to save lives. In Africa, we hear of fundamental issues surrounding early detection. For example, how do you educate women to do breast self-exams when they have been raised to believe that touching your breast is taboo? Every region we enter comes with a new list of cultural and education hurdles. This is why we take great strides to listen to the patients and doctors to learn what is most desperately needed in their homeland. In Peru, it was a mobile cancer unit to reach out to the rural areas. In Nepal, it was new equipment to ensure that patients could get access to better treatment within their country, and in Africa, we will be supporting an initiative to build the first first-class cancer center in Sub-Saharan Africa.
: What role does music play in propagating the LHS message and helping to achieve the LHS goals?
: LHS believes the language of music is universally inspiring, communicative and brings people together in a way other forms of communication do not. Using music-related events as the foundation, LHS has been able to raise enough money and build enough awareness to provide cancer care in countries all over the world. These music-related events have included:
PERU ROCKS, October 2008
A musical journey and largest group to ever hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Sixty-two musicians, survivors and supporters spent 10 days in Peru to raise money for cancer care. Included were members of The Fixx, Fastball, The Alarm and musicians from the United Kingdom and Australia. Proceeds are funding the first mobile cancer unit in Peru, which will educate, screen and treat up to 30,000 people per year.
LA ROCKS, April 2008
A legendary jam session hosted by Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats. Musicians, celebrities and supporters turned out for this intimate jam session benefiting Love Hope Strength, LifeStraw and Water for People.
EVEREST ROCKS, October 2007
An unforgettable climb to play the world’s highest concert ever performed on Mount Everest. The two-hour documentary is now airing on Palladia (a high-definition channel from MTV). Forty-eight musicians, survivors and supporters hiked for 10 days to 18,640 feet, just above Base Camp on Mount Everest. Musicians included members of The Alarm, The Fixx, Squeeze, The Stray Cats and more. Proceeds purchased the first mammography machine and first brachytherapy machine for the country of Nepal.
UNION COUNTY MUSICFEST, September 2007, 2008
A 50,000-person festival and Rock On! Walkathon in Union County, N.J. Each year the people of North New Jersey turn out by the thousands to listen to live music for a two-day festival. The morning kicks off with the Rock On! Walkathon and 5K and an all-day bone marrow drive. Bands who have graced the stages include Live, Chuck Berry, the B-52’s, Everclear, Gin Blossoms, Smithereens, Tokyo Police Club and dozens more.
SNOWDON ROCKS, June 2007, 2008
A yearly trek and concert on the highest point in the UK. Each year, Mike Peters leads a group of hundreds of loyal supporters and fans to the peak he used to gaze at from his hospital window. He has raised more than $100,000 to support the construction of a new wing in the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre located in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan, where Mike was first treated.
EMPIRE ROCKS, April 2007
Our first climb and the first concert ever atop the Empire State Building. Founders Mike Peters and James Chippendale kicked off the foundation in a mighty way—by climbing 86 flights to the top of the Empire State Building and performing the first-ever concert atop the observation deck with Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), Billy Duffy (The Cult) and Dave Wakeling (English Beat). The entire event was produced and directed by Alex Coletti and Tony Visconti.
These events have raised enough funds to:
• Purchase the first mammography machine for the country of Nepal
• Purchase the first Nucletron
brachytherapy afterloader (internal radiation) machine for the country of Nepal
• Create and provide funding for a mobile cancer unit in Peru that will educate, screen and treat up to 30,000 patients per year in remote regions of Peru
• Fund a new wing for a cancer care center in Wales
• Support the Valerie Fund in New Jersey, a center for children with cancer and blood disorders
• Add more than 2,000 people to the national marrow database
• Bring supplies to cancer centers in need around the world
• Release the Everest Rocks
documentary on MTV’s HD channel, Palladia
: LHS approaches the fight against cancer in a very progressive and inclusive way, including what it calls the LHS Army. What do Army members do?
: Our Army is made up of thousands of supporters ranging from cancer survivors and high school bands to Nepalese folk singers and rock ’n’ roll legends (members of The Stray Cats, the B-52’s, Gin Blossoms, The Fixx, Candlebox and Everclear are but a few). As part of the Army, we ask people to give their “love, hope and strength” by dedicating time and effort to spreading awareness and raising money. Army members can do this by hosting their own LHS Army event, volunteering at bone marrow drives and by simply spreading the word to the right people.
Anyone interested in becoming part of the LHS Army can do so by going to www.lovehopestrength.org/site/join-the-army/
: In what other ways can our readers get involved?
: There are a number of ways for readers to get involved. The list includes:
||Making a general donation to the foundation
||Sending a prayer flag on our pilgrimage to Mount Kilimanjaro
||Hosting a bone marrow drive at a music-related festival or event
||Becoming an LHS sponsor
||Making LHS a beneficiary at one of their own events
||Buying LHS gear (100 percent of the proceeds go toward fighting cancer worldwide)
Go to the “Get Involved” tab on the LHS website
to learn more.
: What do our readers need to know about the state and availability of quality cancer treatment today?
: According to the World Health Organization, cancer is expected to be the leading killer by 2010 and is growing most quickly in developing countries. By 2020, the cancer death rate in low- and middle-income countries is projected to be more than five times that of the industrialized world. Among the barriers to addressing this growing epidemic are lack of awareness, lack of resources, insufficient cancer policies and programs, lack of diagnosis and treatment infrastructure, lack of trained personnel, and the high cost of many cancer treatments.**
There is a vast difference between the cancer care provided in Western countries, such as the United States, and the cancer care offered in developing countries. Every country is unique in its needs. In Nepal, we found a lack of technology resources such as an internal radiation machine. In Peru, we found they had the equipment but no ability to treat or reach the rural Peruvians. In Africa, there is a shortage of care centers for the entire Sub-Saharan region. Many countries do not have the benefit of state-of-the-art technology, education and awareness for detection, and a system that offers the population affordable health care. The LHS goal is to ensure that these people get care, whether it’s by building a cancer treatment center, purchasing lifesaving equipment or funding a mobile cancer unit. We touched on all this above.
** Cancer treatment and care in developing countries: Experts spotlight growing crisis. Axios, February 2, 2009.
TFG: What events do you have slated for 2009?
SF: We have a number of events slated for this year (readers can check out the calendar here), including 383 Kent Rocks! in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 24; Mt. Snowdon Rocks! in Wales on July 4; Rhondda Rocks! in Wales on June 27; Union County Musicfest in Cranford, N.J., on Sept. 12 and 13; and Kilimanjaro Rocks! from Sept. 27 to Oct. 9. Kilimanjaro Rocks! will involve musicians, survivors and supporters participating in a symbolic pilgrimage to Uhuru, the 19,341-foot peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s largest free-standing mountain. In addition, the Love Hope Strength Foundation will be conducting bone marrow drives across the country, and is in talks to host a pilgrimage to the top of a Colorado 14er.
For more information, go to www.lovehopestrength.org.
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