Hard Knocks Choir Founder Dr. Jonathon Welch Battles Prostate Cancer


The Choir of Hard Knocks founder is turning his enthusiasm and positivity towards a new cause after he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Jonathon Welch, singer, songwriter and former Australian Local Hero of the Year was diagnosed with the disease four weeks ago.

“It was a crazy dodgeball game between my GP and a urologist as I went for an annual blood test,” Dr Welch said.

“The test came back and the PSA level, which is the fluid that passes through the prostate, was at 35 and it should be between 0 and 3.

“After many more tests, it was shown that I had prostate cancer.

“I was really shocked because I had no symptoms and I still have no symptoms.”

Dr Welch said the diagnosis threw him into a “what if” mode.

“When I was told it scared me,” he said.

“I was sending songs to my partner Matt for my funeral, which were probably mostly songs I had recorded with the Choir of Hard Knocks.”

Early detection a relief

Prostate cancer is now the leading cause of cancer in Australia, with the Prostate Council of Foundation Australia reporting that approximately one in five Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 85.

Jonathon Welch has taken on the role of ambassador for Prostate Cancer Australia.(ABC: Australian History)

Dr Welch said he was happy to have a savvy GP urging him to get a blood test now and not a few years from now.

“I had early screening which is a godsend because if I hadn’t been tested it would be a different story,” he said.

“The cancer is contained in my prostate which is good so I’m deciding on my treatment as I can have surgery to have it removed or brachytherapy where a radioactive seed enters the prostate.

“My urologist told me that I will be here for many more years, so I feel very calm despite the long road ahead of me.”

He said it was hard to tell his 13-year-old son about it.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life, but I was lucky to have a doctor who helped me provide the information and separate fact from fiction,” said said Dr. Welch.

“We all really need to start talking about it and keep things under control,”

Give a helping hand to others

Dr. Welch is no stranger to helping others, having founded the Choir of Hard Knocks in 2006.

He now wants to once again turn his negative experience into a positive one to encourage others to get tested.

“A man every 20 minutes is diagnosed, and many people have gone unchecked, especially during COVID,” he said.

“When you get a result like the one I got, you realize how important it is to catch it early and how necessary that free blood test is to do every two years or every year.”

Sing up and up

The now Prostate Cancer Australia ambassador recently moved to Queensland after two years of confinement in Melbourne.

‘I lived here in the 1980s when South Bank was a dirt road and pub and QPAC was being built and studying at the Queensland Conservatorium and this has always been my happy place,’ he said .

“I’ve revived my ‘Men Aloud’ choir, which I started for the Queensland Music Festival in 2019, where we have our 20 fantastic men with amazing voices singing together.

Jonathon Welch, artistic director of the Choir of Hard Knocks, conducts a rehearsal
Jonathon Welch, artistic director of the Hard Knocks choir, conducts a rehearsal.(ABC News: Joanna Crothers)

“I also started ‘Free Come and Sing’ workshops that we run locally, and the first meeting saw 480 people come.”

Dr Welch will also take part in The Long Run to raise money for the foundation which sees participants run, walk or cycle 72km over the course of the month.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone and I hope that by participating we will not only raise awareness and remind people that it can happen to men of any age,” he said. he declares.

“I have a lot of things planned, so I keep myself busy because worrying doesn’t do me any good.”


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