This afternoon I watched a documentary that had quite an effect on me, and I thought I’d share a little bit about it with you.
The film is called “Man In The Camo Jacket” and it’s the story of a man named Mike Peters. Mike is the co-founder of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which is a charitable foundation whose purpose is to raise funds and awareness to benefit people with cancer and leukemia. Oh, and he also happens to be the lead songwriter and singer for legendary ’80s rock band The Alarm (who are still going strong today, thank you very much).
The first half hour or so of the film follows the trajectory of that band through their skyrocketing success and inevitable break up in the early ’90s, when Peters quit the band to go solo. He toured and released music to minor success but was happy rebuilding his career from the ground up. In 1996, while on tour, Mike was diagnosed with Lymph cancer. Through sheer willpower and stubbornness, he beat it and recovered.
After this, he put together a new version of The Alarm, continued recording and touring, and having a more successful time of things. Then, in 2005, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Here’s where the movie and life story gets interesting for viewers who aren’t just music geeks. The film details his many rounds of chemotherapy, blood work, and the stresses it puts on himself, his family, and bandmates. Mike Peters decided he was going to keep touring around the world, keep recording, and making music. He was not going to slow down, not going to have a bone marrow transplant, and this disease was not going to beat him. And so far, it hasn’t.
Where the movie is most effective is when it shows the toll leukemia takes on the man while he’s choosing to smile on and power through it. We see the love , fear, and encouragement of his wife, Jules, the unsung hero of the relationship. the movie also documents the troubles the couple has trying to conceive through IVF. Their story is touching and quite inspiring.
And then there’s the charity work. Love Hope Strength (named after an Alarm song) has so far saved thousands of lives by registering people to “get on the list” and be a bone marrow donor. They have also built cancer treatment centers throughout the world in places that didn’t have access to modern treatment.
Unlike with most celebrity charities Mike Peters is very hands on, he has a passion for this charity and it shows. Apart from appearing in Parliament to help change donor laws in the UK, Mike and LHS hold events where they gather musicians, supporters and cancer survivors CLIMB FRIGGIN’ MOUNTAINS and hold concerts in remote locations such as Everest base camp, Snowdon in Wales, the ruins of Machu Picchu, and Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Needless to say, this story got to me. I have been a fan of The Alarm for quite some time and I knew some of this story, but I never really realized the full depth until now.
My advice to you would be to check out the film “Man In The Camo Jacket”, check out the Love Hope Strength foundation, and while you’re at it check out (or revisit) the music of Mike Peters solo, and The Alarm. As for me, I have a new musical hero…and a new charity to support.
P.S.-Before the film was released, Jules Peters found out she had breast cancer, multiple growths. She is currently in remission. Mike is currently in remission as well.