I have just come off stage in York, England having received a donation of £1799 made out to Love Hope Strength Foundation.
The gentleman who climbed up onto the stage to present the cheque (Dave Anderson of Motonovo Finance), is typical of every single member of our 5 year old Love Hope Strength family in that he has been driven to make a difference in the fight against cancer by supporting LHS having been personally touched by cancer after witnessing the effects of the illness on his father.
During the ‘live’ presentation (something similar happens at almost every gig I play these days..), I could see in his eyes that like me, Dave Anderson believes cancer is on the run and that his action in raising funds to support LHS really are making a difference. After the show, he came to the dressing room and told me that whilst supporting his father through a cancer related operation a song came on the hospital radio and it happened to be ‘Deeside’ by my band The Alarm. In silence, they both listened together and at the close of the first chorus when the lyric sings of a life that “kicks a man when he’s down” his father looked at him and said “that’s me”. As the song played on into the third verse his father then heard the lines “I’m just going to sing about the things I need…. a little bit of love, a little bit of hope, a little bit of strength some fuel for the fire” and it was at this point that the father looked at the son and said “with you by my side, I’m going to beat this”…. and he has. Dave Anderson’s father is now on the road to recovery and has been put back to six monthly checks. That track they listened to ‘Deeside’ was recorded in 1985 and was the first time I used the three words ‘Love’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Strength’ together in one song and ever since those three little words have followed me through life.
5 years ago, the ‘Love Hope Strength Foundation’ was born in the aftermath of my own second bout with cancer and so to celebrate my return to health I went as one of 33 to climb to the base of Mt. Everest on the first international trek LHS undertook named ‘Everest Rocks’. Our mission was to help those less fortunate than myself (and fellow survivor and co-founder James Chippendale), to gain access to the same kinds of medical equipment and health care that had enabled us to come back from the kinds of cancer diagnosis that 1 in 3 people living today have to experience at some point in time.
Mike Peters and members of the Everest Rocks 2007 Team atop Kala Pathar
Before I left for Nepal, I wrote another song based on those three little words simply called ‘Love Hope and Strength’, in the hope it could be sung at the summit of our attempt on Kala Patthar at 18,500 feet. When I got off the plane I looked up a local recording studio and together with musicians Glenn Tilbrook, Nick Harper, Cy Curnin, Jamie West-Oram and Slim Jim Phantom we recorded it for the first time. The song bonded us together for the rigours of the journey ahead. We sang it wherever we went as the trek through the Khumbu Valley showed us other reasons why our fight against cancer was so important. When we reached the summit this little song of ‘Love Hope and Strength’ helped carry our message to millions of people (as relayed via internet pod casts around the world), who had become engaged by the drama of our trek to the ‘highest gig in the world’ in order to raise funds to support the Bhaktapur Cancer Centre in Kathmandu.
Since then we have hosted events all over the globe and the actions of many, many Love Hope Strength supporters like Dave Anderson have made a real and tangible difference. Every step taken by someone on an LHS mountain fundraiser or any one of the 25,000 plus who have become potential bone marrow donors through our ‘Get On The List’ campaign, every marathon run or song sung has helped to make our battle real and inspirational to others. Yes, we have experienced loss but we have also seen great victories since Love Hope Strength first flew it’s banner and even now the reality of our challenge is brought into focus when I was informed that Ellen Ruark who was intending to participate in Everest Rocks II this month has had to pull out because of complications caused by her cancer treatment.
I’m sure that this sad news will only serve to strengthen the resolve of everyone who has committed to Love Hope Strength in it’s first five years and quicken the step of those lucky enough to be readying themselves for Everest Rocks II. Although I won’t be going physically this time, I will be there spiritually and I urge everyone who is going to Nepal (for the first time or returning), to walk with the determination to see out the trek and to walk in honour of Ellen Ruark and the millions of people who are subject to the harsh and cruel effects cancer has on individuals, families and communities alike. Take the message of Love Hope and Strength to the highest heights and let those who are suffering know that they are not alone and that cancer can and will be beaten and that the hope of a cure will one day be found.
I can still remember the first time I sat down at the lodge in Namche Bazaar back in October 2007 to write the names of survivors, patients and lost loved ones onto the prayer flags I had promised to carry to base camp with me (an act that itself has now become such a symbolic and comforting ritual on every Love Hope Strength trek). The names of those people and the spirit of their inspiration are forever flying in the wind at base camp and waiting to be joined by a new generation of Love Hope Strength trekkers who will each and every one be climbing for deep and personal reasons. I wish you well my friends and want you to know that your commitment and endeavour will be appreciated by all of us back home. I would also like to say a deep and heartfelt thanks to every single person who has helped support the Love Hope Strength cause in these first five years. Enjoy the first of many videos to come fro the team of Everest Rocks 2012…
Walk forever by my side,
Co-founder Love Hope Strength