Blackpool entertainer Joey Blower's family launch fundraising bid for specialist life-saving cancer treatment
In 40 years of entertaining Blackpool, performer Joey Blower has never been more grateful for the love and kindness of his loyal audiences.
Because after revealing his prostate cancer diagnosis, more than £8,000 has been donated by supporters to help fund specialist proton beam therapy treatment in his bid to beat the disease.
His family – wife Nam and four-year-old daughter Olivia – last week set up a fundraising campaign to help pay for Joey’s treatment, which is only available privately and likely to cost tens of thousands.
It is the same life-saving treatment Funny Girls owner Basil Newby, 69, underwent in Munich, Germany, in his battle with prostate cancer.
The 58-year-old, who has been told by consultants he is not the right candidate for robotic removal of his prostate, said: “I attended a clinic with my consultant where we discussed my options, which are prostate removal, brachytherapy and radiotherapy.
“Prostate removal is done robotically but leaves you with side effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary problems, with a catheter fitted post surgery and then you have to learn to retrain your bladder, which can take quite some time, depending on the severity of it. But it could also lead to long term urinary and bowel issues and you may need further radiotherapy to complete the process.
“I was then somewhat confused to be told there is a 99 per cent chance of never having prostate cancer again, which I questioned as if it’s removed how is that possible?
“The consultant told me that it’s possible for a small amount of the cancer to fall off and remain internally and as such regrow and it would still be classed as ‘prostate cancer’.
“The full radiotherapy treatment, similarly, causes erectile dysfunction with slightly better urinary problems but the radiation destroys a large area and has the potential to affect your bowels and if it’s not successful then prostate removal at a later date is not possible. Plus you have to have male hormones with this treatment that cause hot sweats, breasts, mood swings, plus some other varying side effects.
“Still my preferred treatment is private only and it’s proton beam therapy, which costs around £50,000.”
Joey, who raised hundreds of thousands for charity over the years, said that, while he has been overwhelmed by the fundraising so far, it has felt uncomfortable to ask for help – with the most important thing to him supporting Olivia. He has teamed up with staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Rob Saul and Alma Stewart, to launch an awareness campaign, which will highlight the importance of men checking for the symptoms.
He added: “We hope all businesses and public companies will buy into a poster campaign in gents toilets to advise guys of the most common symptoms of early signs of potential prostate cancer, and where better than at the urinal in a public toilet?
“I’ve had so many kind offers of help and funding which I truly appreciate, but I still need to finalise costs for treatment, follow ups, plus how much I can afford myself.”
Joey, who is looking forward to his programme at resort venue Viva this season after almost a year away from the stage, said he hoped his treatment will not interfere heavily with his future shows – if he is accepted for the proton beam therapy programme, either at a clinic in Prague or the UK.
On the fundraising website set up by Nam and Olivia, Nam writes: “Joey is not keen on this page being set up as he has always helped others and would prefer to be doing that but at this stage in his life and with so many people offering to help he has reluctantly agreed to this page.
“We have set the target at £25,000 but any amount will be very much appreciated and used towards his treatment.”
Visit tinyurl.com/37tpr4te to donate.