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Top cancer specialist releases album to fundraise for charity

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Professor Joe OÕSullivan, clinical director of oncology at the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, is launching his third music album. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Professor Joe OÕSullivan, clinical director of oncology at the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, is launching his third music album. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Cliff Donaldson

Professor Joe OÕSullivan, clinical director of oncology at the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, is launching his third music album. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

A top cancer specialist is hoping people will give a shot of love to hard-pressed charities with a new fundraising album.

Professor Joe O’Sullivan’s Instead of Many Shades of Blue album will raise money for the Friends of the Cancer Centre, one of the many medical charities whose funding has taken a hit during the crisis.

He said: “This crisis is really affecting how charities raise money and normal fundraising events can’t take place. I thought I could use my profile to give them a bit of publicity and at the same time, when you have recorded music, you kind of want to get it out there, let people hear it and move on to the next project.”

Joe has been based in Belfast for over 16 years, working at the City Hospital and Queen’s University, but has also served at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Originally from Wexford, he said his genre falls “somewhere between Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Coldplay, U2, that kind of vibe”.

“I recorded this back in November and the plan had been to release it in March but with the Covid-19 restrictions coming in, it didn’t look like the right time,” said Joe.

“I’ve also been busy in the hospital but I think things are at a manageable level.”

Lending him a hand with the vocals is his 16-year-old son Oisin, with the pair supported by a three-piece backing band.

While the album’s release was delayed by the crisis, Joe and his team at the City Hospital are trying to carry on as best they can during the pandemic.

“We’ve had a mixture of things. One was making sure we had enough capacity and we would have space if me and my colleagues would work on the frontline and our ICU and surgeries were handed over,” he said. “The second part was keeping our cancer patients safe during the crisis because a lot of them are older and trying to minimise their time outside the house.

“We’ve tried to keep things as normal as possible but inevitably less and less treatment is being done.

“But I would say we are gradually ramping back up now and I think it’s other health conditions which might be worst affected by this virus — (people with) heart disease, cancer, who have normally been attending for therapy and now they are kind of scared to do so.

“We are not going to be normal for a while but at least we can get back to treating people better.”

Joe explained that music can help with the often grim side of his job such as treating men with prostate cancer.

“In oncology you can have quite tough days but I’ve always found music to be a way to ease you through the difficulties in life,” he said.

Instead of Many Shades of Blue is available on Spotify and Apple Music, and on CD from sharpemusic.com priced £12.

Belfast Telegraph