WASHINGTON – At a luncheon held a day before The Who was scheduled to play a show at the Verizon Center,Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend spoke about their program to help teens cope with cancer.
“What we’re trying to do here is make you aware of the situation,” Daltrey said at the luncheon Monday at the National Press Club. “You should build a community within your hospital at the point of diagnosis for teenagers with cancer.”
About a year ago,Daltrey and Townshend launched the UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program,at the University of California,Los Angeles’ Ronald Reagan Medical Center. The program serves patients ages 13 to 24.
Daltrey and Townshend also veered into music when members of the audience asked questions,including which musicians influenced them.
“Right back to the beginning,Elvis,first guy I thought had the best job in the world,” Daltrey said. “Of course,I never ever thought I could actually do it.”
Daltrey said he also drew inspiration from James Brown,Chuck Berry,Motown and Hank Williams.
Townshend said his inspiration first came when he listened to music with his father – including Frank Sinatra,Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.
“I don’t have any barriers whatsoever. I listen to everything,” Townshend said.
Another questioner asked about the world of digital music. Townshend said that,for years,record labels gave an artist a “fair crack.” It allowed them to “have a hit,and a miss,and a miss and another miss and another hit.”
“None of the digital music parasites and vampires that exist at the moment,making money out of music,give money to developing artist,” Townshend said. “And this is something that really does need to be looked at.”
But the rock legends spoke mainly about the cancer charity group and how it fits with their rock- and-roll lives.
“You know what’s so interesting is the continuum in our music where it talks about teens,our demographic are certainly not teens anymore,but there are teens that like our music,” Townshend said. “The continuum,of course,is the teen that we all carry inside us,including the inner child we all carry inside us,in my case certainly that’s what motivates the music.”
About three years ago,Daltrey and Townshend met Sarah Sterner,a fan and cancer survivor from Atlanta at a concert after her father posted a message on the band’s website. Sterner was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 15.
Daltrey and Townshend decided to raise money for a program in the U.S. to duplicate a program they sponsor in the United Kingdom,the Teenage Cancer Trust. It provides camaraderie for teenage cancer patients like Sterner.
“When your emotional health is better,your physical health is going to be better,” Sterner said at the luncheon. “Being a survivor of 2½ years,I firmly believe in that,because if I didn’t have the support that I have I don’t think I would be here today.”
Instead of being isolated,teenage cancer patients are surrounded by other teenagers who have faced the same challenges. The support is always there,and the casual environment looks like a recreational facility.
The objective is to make things as normal as possible for teenagers growing up with the psychological,emotional and environmental challenges of being a teenager during diagnosis and treatment.
By the end of next year the Teenage Cancer Trust will have 17 centers in the U.K.,meaning every teenager who has cancer will have access to one of the centers.
“Without teenagers and their support,we would not exist,” Daltrey said. “So all you rich rock stars out there,get off your butts,get involved,raise some money.”
A dollar from each ticket sold during the band’s current North American tour will be donated to the UCLA Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program.
Reach reporter Kristopher Rivera at email@example.com or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.