Blackpool singing star Joe Longthorne has today spoken candidly of how he is facing a new cancer fight – as he prepares for the show of his lifetime at the legendary London Palladium.
Next Sunday, Joe will celebrate his 60th birthday with a Sunday Night At The London Palladium-type show.
But as the adopted Sandgrown’un makes his preparations, he’s revealed he is facing a new cancer battle.
“I’ve been unlucky really, when it comes to cancer,” he told The Gazette.
His fight against leukaemia has been well documented. Diagnosed in the late 1980s, he fought the disease until 2006, when he had a bone marrow transplant.
Then last July he underwent a 12-hour operation at Royal Preston Hospital to remove a tumour from his mouth and neck.
But now a recent routine scan has shown up a growth in his chest - an event that Joe describes as ‘a smack in the face’. He’s since had three tests, and is waiting the results of a fourth to confirm the diagnosis.
Radiotherapy is on the cards, although Joe and his partner Jamie Moran remain optimistic and said medics are not yet overly concerned.
“Over the years, I’ve just got on with it,” he said. “I’ve had different bits of cancer for 30 years.
“After last year’s operation the plan was to do a few shows, but I ended up having to have a lot of time off.
“There will be some further treatment for cancer in my neck and there’s an unidentified lump in my chest.”
Joe is currently playing warm up shows for the Palladium in the south this weekend, and will be back and on stage at Viva on Church Street, Blackpool, on Thursday night with a 16-piece orchestra for his local party.
Joe’s lived in the resort for 16 years, although he spent much of his time here for several years before that.
“I love Viva as a cabaret venue, and it’s certainly not just a rehearsal for the Palladium.
“We’ve got a 16-piece orchestra and it’s being recorded for a DVD, to raise money for the foundation.
“It will be a real celebration ahead of London.”
On the bill are comedian Billy Pearce, as well as singer Darren Day - who stood in for Joe’s Viva show last summer, and Viva’s own Leye D Johns.
“It’s going to be a great show,” Joe added. “It’s going to be all old friends, they could each have a show on their own.”
More than 2,000 people are expected at the London Palladium, testament to Joe’s eternal popularity and the dedication of his fans.
The medical team from Royal Preston will be among a couple of hundred invited guests also making the trip to London.
Palladium comedy veteran Jimmy Tarbuck will be appearing, as will Darren Day, Ricky Tomlinson and Johnnie Casson, and a 25-piece orchestra will be accompanying the acts.
“I’m hoping to watch the others before I go on, but I don’t know what I’ll be doing myself until I step foot on the stage, the orchestra will be terrified,” he added, jokingly.
“I have played bigger shows maybe, but with it being in the West End and on my actual birthday, it will be so special,
“That said, I’ll still be in my motorhome the same as any other show I do now.
“When I get back to Blackpool from wherever I have been, it’s not - like they say - ‘Wherever I lay my hat’, it’s Blackpool that’s home.
“Hull is where I was born, and I’ll never forget that, but Blackpool is the place for me.”