Joseph Neale: Lung Cancer Isn't Only a Smoker's Disease
Patient Perspective Around 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked — like Joseph Neale, the Toronto-based musician-turned-activist who spreads awareness with his music.
Around 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked yet 20% of Canadians have less sympathy for those with lung cancer compared to other cancers. This was the case for Torontonian singer/songwriter Joseph Neale, who beat lung cancer and continues to spread his message through music.
Mediaplanet: You’re a singer/songwriter, how did you start your musical career?
Joseph Neale: As a child, music was an everyday influence. From my mom singing us awake to my father playing loud music to wake up his five children to come practice music at 6am; music annoyingly became my first love. Piano lessons after school instead of league basketball was our tradition.
In elementary school, I found out I had a cousin doing music full time, the late Haydain Neale who was a part of the multi Juno-award winning band Jacksoul and I knew I wanted to be like him! With my brothers we created a song writing duo and independent label, GO7 Music Inc. After having music played on CNN, CBC, CTV News, Global and more, we created mixtapes and albums for local Toronto talent including ourselves.
Where are you now in your music career?
My stage name is JOII (@JOIITV) and I’ve released two albums on Spotify and iTunes, HER and SODA. HER is my representation of RnB while SODA expresses the pop side of my writing. I wrote an album for lung cancer research during my journey through cancer named GET LOUD.
The goal is to perform across Toronto schools, colleges, hospitals, shopping centers and corporations to serve as a reminder to live in the moment, beyond negative outcomes with a positive mindset. Currently, GO7 is making a major push to become a household RnB and Hip-Hop group from the Six, find us at @GO7music.
Can you tell us about your battle with lung cancer and how it influenced your music?
My battle with cancer was scary and traumatic, yet very sobering. Times of peace, followed by times of intense stress and depression. Lung cancer took my idol, Haydain Neale, and three years later it changed my life. Studying the mind, universe, spirituality and finances took my brain away from cancer and I began to focus on my future. I have dreams of raising $1 billion for Cancer Research like Paul Alofs and the Princess Margaret Foundation. In the future, I'd like to spend time curing cancer, poverty and ignorance beginning with being a musical influence.
What do you wish more people knew about lung cancer?
"When I was diagnosed, I never smoked a cigarette."
Lung cancer is not only a smoker’s disease. When I was diagnosed, I never smoked a cigarette and I wasn’t around much second hand smoke. I was diagnosed with different diseases before it was confirmed as lung cancer. Since lung cancer originates in the lungs, the majority of the population believes it must be from smoking without realizing that 15% of lung cancer patients are non-smokers. Most ads against smoking focus on developing lung cancer and the ads really invoke more fear than curiosity for a cure. My goal is to make more awareness and funding available to the least funded & most fatal cancer.
What advice would you give to anyone trying to start their music career or battling lung cancer?
To anyone working on their musical career, focus on the artists you'd compete with. Mimic what they do but keep originality. It's a strange duality, but creativity combined with rational music sense will make a perfect product to promote. Maintain a social media presence on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram while keeping your performance as similar to your recordings as possible. Spotify and iTunes are you best friends for sharing your music.
To anyone battling lung cancer and any cancer, you still have a chance to live. If you have concerns, see a doctor now and evaluate your life so you can make the necessary lifestyle changes. It won’t be easy, and each case is different, the point is you may not die! Take a chance and find a way to make a comeback. Find me and I’ll help: @IAMJOSEPHNEALE @JOIITV @GO7MUSIC.