“Adolescent care up until now has been a teenage wasteland,” Roger Daltrey of the legendary rock group, the Who said, quoting from the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”
“Every generation of rock musician will understand that we wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of teenagers buying the records. Just put yourself back on the line. It’s very easy — just be there when they ask for you.”
Daltrey was joined by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin at the launch of the UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program.
The Who and other major musicians have given their support for England’s Teenage Cancer Trust, for more than 10 years. The program has established 19 cancer units for teenagers across the U.K. Some of that support has come in the form of annual benefit concerts by many artists including Plant at the Royal Albert Hall and the hands-on efforts of Daltrey.
Daltrey, Plant, and Tounshend – who was unable to attend the event due to his visa being expired – have high hopes of changing the medical culture which categorizes patients as either adults or children; and until now had few special considerations for teens.
“Pete and I did little things over 10-12 years for charity, and it was doing quite well, but I just felt this needs grabbing by the scruff of the neck,” Daltrey told Rolling Stone after the press conference. “Raising money is only one factor. Somebody has to give it a profile.”
The unit, which is housed at the UCLA Medical Center, will treat teens apart from young children and adults; while focusing on concerns of special significance with adolescents that have been diagnosed with cancer.
Artists’ renderings of the planned center, showing brightly colored rooms with a pool table, couches, a coffee counter, games, computers and posters of the Ramones, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin were revealed at the conference.
“I look at that, and I just think, ‘Man, I want to go there right now.’ That looks awesome,” said Atlanta high school student Sarah Sterner. “If we can create that home away from home with the Teenage Trust, maybe it will take away some of the mental shock of being sick and having cancer.”
On the small stage, Daltrey stood with an arm around Sterner, a rock drummer diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 15. She’s been declared cancer-free for the last 18 months. “Look at her now, 17 years old,” Daltrey said with a grin, “a complete success story.”
In a taped statement, Townshend spoke of the success the charity has had in the U.K. “Let’s hope in the USA it can catch fire the way it did here, because it does save lives.”
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