National Press Club

The Who legends Daltrey and Townshend launch “Teen Cancer America” charity at NPC luncheon

November 12, 2012 | By Sean Lyngaas | sean.lyngaas@gmail.com]

The Who legends Roger Daltrey (left) and Pete Townshend mug with their NPC mugs

The Who legends Roger Daltrey (left) and Pete Townshend mug with their NPC mugs

Photo/Image: Christy Bowe

Rock legends Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, lead singer and guitarist, respectively, of the iconic British band The Who, announced the launch of their charity Teen Cancer America at a National Press Club luncheon on Nov. 12.

Daltrey gave the keynote remarks and The Who front man was by turns jovial and somber in an eloquent appeal for a more concentrated effort to fight teen cancer in the United States.

“What we’re trying to do here is make you aware of the situation,” Daltrey told a sold-out crowd of NPC members and their guests.

“You should build a community within your hospital at the point of diagnosis for teenagers with cancer, so that instead of them being isolated they are ... with other teenagers who have been through the process,” said Daltrey.

Teen Cancer America is the American affiliate of the Teen Cancer Trust in the United Kingdom, a charity of which Daltrey is a longstanding patron. He lauded the work of Teen Cancer Trust, saying that “by the end of next year we would have covered…the whole of the U.K. so every teenager in our country who gets cancer has access to one of these facilities.”

But the United States is at a more difficult starting point than the U.K., according to Daltrey. “In your country you’re even in a worse situation… because you haven’t even got within the clinical side of it any recognition that the age group from 13 to 24 is completely different,” he said.

Daltrey reflected on the special role he feels the music industry has in helping teens. “The music business, without teenagers and their support, would not exist. So all you rich rock stars out there: get off your butts! Get involved, raise some money,” he said to laughter from the audience.

Also speaking at the luncheon was cancer survivor Sarah Sterner. She stressed the importance of Teen Cancer America’s work in “creating small hospital wards designed especially for teenagers.”

“By putting teen patients together, they don’t have to go out and seek that emotional support. ... When your emotional health is better, your physical health is better. Being a survivor of two and a half years, I firmly believe in that,” Sterner said.

As the Q&A session with Daltrey and members of the Teen Cancer America board neared its end, there were calls in the audience to hear from Townshend, who was quiet but attentive throughout the luncheon. When The Who guitarist finally did take the podium, he did not disappoint.

“I didn’t know that you could make any sense either,” Townshend teased his band mate, echoing an earlier comment on the eloquence of Daltrey’s delivery.

But when it came to expressing his support for Teen Cancer America, Townshend, like Daltrey, was poignant. In response to a question about the state of rock and roll today, Townshend brought the focus back on cancer, “I am so moved that I don’t really know that I can answer the question,” said Townshend with a trembling voice.

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