Joey Blower to take a break from summer performances at Viva as he prepares to fly out to Prague for life-saving treatment for prostate cancer
Veteran resort entertainer Joey Blower is to take a break from showbiz as he jets off abroad for specialist cancer therapy.
While he hopes for more happy years ahead, he says with real openness ' this is the last shot.' He spoke candidly to Nicola Jaques.
Over the last few months, time has become ever precious for Joey Blower
The comedian, who spent years entertaining holidaymakers on North Pier before recently moving to town centre venue Viva, isn’t prepared to waste it either – after being diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year.
So, this weekend, after 27 summers working the crowds, he will wrap up his show before hanging up his mic for an as yet indeterminate length of time so he can try and recover from the disease.
His treatment will now mean four weeks of private proton beam therapy in Prague, the Czech Republic’s capital city, and means a last minute change of plans for the performer.
Joey, 58, wanted to stay in the UK but said he had second thoughts after “losing confidence” in a private clinic, which he said delayed his appointments – amounting to weeks he believes he can ill-afford.
And he's conceded that Prague is now his “last and best chance” of recovering.
It has been an “emotional” week, he said, not least because he has to leave his wife Nam and daughter Olivia, four, at home when he flies overseas on Monday ahead of his treatment programme, which starts next Friday.
Joey said: “I have taken Olivia to nursery and picked her up every day for the last year and that time, honestly, has been so special.
“She has known Daddy is not well and I have to go away, but she thinks it is a few nights and being away for four weeks is going to be hardest part.
“It’s heartbreaking but kids are resilient and I’m doing all this to ensure I have many more years ahead with her.
“I’m a little apprehensive about the treatment but I know I’ve only got one shot at this.”
Proton beam therapy means shooting high energy protons, which are small parts of atoms, at a tumour, rather than high energy x-rays, called photons, to treat specific types of cancer.
The procedure is painless but can come with side affects often experienced with other forms of radiotherapy.
“It’s noninvasive,” Joey said. “I will complete the scans and all my pre-assessment immediately after the quarantine, and then the programme begins after the weekend. It will be every other day for two weeks before further scans.”
Proton beam therapy is offered by the NHS but is hard to access, although there are plans to make it more easily available and new clinical trials look to be in the works..
Joey said he has spoken to bosses at leading cancer hospital The Christie in Manchester, which opened a proton beam therapy centre in late 2018, in the hope more patients will soon qualify for the state-of-the-art treatment, an alternative to surgery that can lead to incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Joey wasn’t suitable for surgery – while prostate cancer is relatively rare for someone as young as him.
“I’m proof it can happy to anyone,” he said. “ Given my age and the fact I have had none of the symptoms - it isn’t common for men in this age bracket.
"It's so important to keep talking about it and this is why I’m so passionate about raising awareness.”
Joey said part of his set, which he will perform for the last time before treatment on Saturday afternoon, includes talking about his diagnosis – and said he has been overwhelmed by the response from the audience.
He said: “I’ve had grown men weeping and some come at the end of the show to thank me for putting a spotlight on the disease because they have known someone who has been affected.
“Even if it helps just one person through sharing, it’s worth it.
“Cancer can make you feel very isolated but – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the wishes and support from people in this town has been terrific.
“The donations, the cards, the messages, the small gifts, they’ve all meant so much.”
Joey said he hopes to return to the stage in August after being discharged on Friday, July 30.
He added: “The guys at Viva have been great at rescheduling those booked for the July performances. I’m in the right hands.”
Visit tinyurl.com/37tpr4te to donate.