Loftus selected as honorary relay co-chairmanJoe Loftus defeated his prostate cancer three years ago. Now his mission is to spread the message of hope to others going through battles with the maligned disease through his life, words, and music.
By: Jace Frederick , Hudson Star-Observer
Joe Loftus defeated his prostate cancer three years ago. Now his mission is to spread the message of hope to others going through battles with the maligned disease through his life, words, and music. That mission is only growing as he has been selected as an honorary chairman for the Hudson Relay For Life on June 22-23 at the Hudson Middle School.
Loftus was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago. He received treatment from the University of Minnesota and had the cancerous mass surgically removed. His prostate has been healthy since. Loftus is extremely grateful for all of the support he received during that trying time.
“At church, people prayed for me and were there for me,” said Loftus, “my pastor helped me through it (as well).”
Loftus also spoke of the support from his wife and best friend, Jane, who works with many cancer patients at the University of Minnesota. It was her work and experiences with patients that drove him to quit smoking and chewing tobacco many years ago. He spoke of the effect his wife has had on so many people with the illness.
“She’s a very tender-hearted person. She really cares for patients. She’s got a gift to care for sick people and their families,” said Loftus.
Caring for the sick is a trait evident in multiple members of Loftus’ family. His daughter is a registered nurse. He and his wife have four children and two grandchildren, and they are a huge part of his life.
“I love my kids. And my grandkids, they’re so much fun,” he said.
Loftus, now retired, worked much of his life as a pipe cover welder. He was also in the Navy, serving two tours in the Vietnam. Though not a proponent of war, he described his time in the Navy as a “good experience for me.” He learned to play the guitar while on duty, which only furthered his lifelong love of music.
Loftus grew up in a music-loving Irish family, the oldest of ten children. He says, much to his amazement, his mother was always singing.
“She had three in diapers most of the time. I don’t know how she always sang,” he said.
Loftus started memorizing songs when he was six or seven years old.
“Now I have no idea how many songs I have in my head,” he said.
It has been fifty years since Loftus began playing the guitar. He started writing songs in 1980. Though he cannot read music or write score, he has now written over 100 songs including lullabies, love songs, songs about death, cars, and anything else that comes mind. He has also released five CDs.
“Whatever comes I try to write it down. I believe it’s God wanting me to pass on some message to somebody of hope, because there is a lot of hope,” he said.
Loftus plays and sings his songs anywhere and everywhere. He has a passion for sharing his music and the messages that go along with it.
“I love to sing. I am not shy. I have never been shy with singing. I love to sing. I love to get up in front of people,” said Loftus.
Loftus especially enjoys traveling around with his dear friend Bob Terpstra to different nursing homes and playing for the elderly.
“I know songs from the late 1800s on through. They relate to what I sing and they will come alive,” said Loftus, “they sing and clap and there is nothing that gives me more encouragement to keep on playing than that.”
Loftus is very appreciative of the opportunity to do what he loves on a daily basis.
“I never dreamed that I would be able to do what I do today,” he said, “I could not have fantasized this.”
Loftus hopes to begin working in single-room therapy in nursing homes, giving him the opportunity to share his music with others and help them by connecting on a more one-on-one basis.
Along with his own experience with cancer, Loftus’ mother had three different encounters with the disease that lasted over a fifty-year span before she finally passed away four years ago. He appreciates a trip his family took with his mother to Ireland before her death.
His experiences, along with his great message, make Loftus a fantastic candidate for a chairman for the relay.
“Humbling. It’s extremely humbling,” he said of his selection, “evidently they heard and saw something in me that could contribute to the relay, that I would help pass the message on, that this is a survivor’s thing. This is not a death warrant, it’s a survivor’s thing. That’s what I want to relay in my music.”
As a member of the track team when he was in high school, Loftus likes to think of the Relay For Life as exactly what the name states, a relay. Everyone who has struggled with this disease passes on the baton, or their experiences, to the next person so no one feels as though they have to go through it alone.
“I think the hope, prayers, encouragement, comforting, and just being there for each other is so important,” he said.
Loftus feels the love and support is evident among fellow survivors, something he saw when he performed at this year’s annual Relay For Life Survivors’ Dinner April 19 at Bethel Highlands.
“At survivor’s dinner it was great to look into people’s faces and see they were there for each other and they supported each other. That’s what it’s about for me,” he said.
As a chairman, Loftus will give a speech at the event. He plans to include one of his songs he wrote about his experiences with the disease, as well as speak the words from his soul.
“It’s easy to talk about. I don’t know how much I’ll write down, because it’s in my heart.”
A story on the Relay For Life’s other honorary chairman, Lynn Robson, will appear in next week’s Star-Observer.