Striking a chord

• Errol H Tout. Photo supplied

THE healing power of music helped Perth musician Errol H Tout battle kidney cancer, but the real lifesaver was giving up alcohol.

An “odd lump” on the right side of his stomach turned out to be a malignant tumour on his right kidney.

It was successfully removed, but a three month check-up found it had spread to his liver.

Dry July

“The liver surgeon asked me how much I drank, and when I told him roughly a bottle a night, he told me to go 12 months without alcohol then come back to see him.”

Dr Tout, a former UWA lecturer, is now an ambassador for Dry July and hardly drinks at all.

Seven years on from his diagnosis it’s been touch and go, but with a barrage of treatment his outlook remains positive.

“I should have been dead a long time ago,” the 60-year-old says. “Music helped get through the illness, and chemo and immunotherapy.

“It’s pretty difficult to describe, but when I’m making music my particles align, my body feels healthier and there’s no room for cancer. It feels as if I am connected to something larger than myself.”

More than 3200 Australians a year develop alcohol-attributable cancer in their mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, bowel and breast, says Michael Thorn, head of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

“It’s a class one carcinogen. The alcohol in one bottle of wine has the equivalent cancer risk of smoking five cigarettes for men, and 10 for women,”.

Dry July is a fund raiser for cancer research, and a “great way to look at how you can reduce your overall alcohol consumption,” Cancer Council WA CEO Ashley Reid says.

“If I can give up alcohol for a whole year, anyone can give up for just a month for such a good cause,” Dr Tout says.

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