Many peo­ple know how pre­cious life is... but af­ter cancer, we re­ally do

The Alarm’s Mike Peters was bat­tling leukaemia when his wife Jules was told she had breast cancer. The cou­ple tell MAR­ION McMULLEN how they’ve faced the tough times to­gether and come through

Uxbridge Gazette - - Sound Out -

‘WE ARE both cancer sur­vivors,” says Mike Peters sim­ply, as he re­calls the mo­ment he and his wife Jules dis­cov­ered she had breast cancer.

The BBC was film­ing a doc­u­men­tary with The Alarm’s front­man about his own bat­tle with leukaemia when Jules re­ceived the dev­as­tat­ing news.

“The doc­u­men­tary had a work­ing ti­tle of Be­ing Mike Peters and then Jules was di­ag­nosed as I was by her side,” re­calls Mike.

“She bravely de­cided to let the cam­eras film her ex­pe­ri­ence and tell the woman’s side of the story of deal­ing with the treat­ment and surgery and the cam­eras be­came a bit like a ther­a­pist in a way.”

Jules says poignantly: “I was di­ag­nosed two years ago on July 4, In­de­pen­dence Day, and I al­ways say that was the mo­ment I lost my in­de­pen­dence.”

The doc­u­men­tary, While We Still Have Time, pro­voked a huge re­ac­tion went it was shown on BBC Wales and it went on to be re­peated on BBC2 and BBC1.

Now the cou­ple are bring­ing their story up-to-date with new BBC doc­u­men­tary The Next Step, to be broad­cast on Au­gust 6.

Mike says mu­sic helped him con­front his fears and wor­ries dur­ing the dark times when Jules was un­der­go­ing treat­ment.

“I couldn’t ex­press my­self the nor­mal way and when Jules was hav­ing ra­di­a­tion, chemo­ther­apy or surgery I would be pac­ing the cor­ri­dors of the hospi­tal think­ing ‘What’s hap­pen­ing to us?’

“The only way I could put these emo­tions into con­text was to type ev­ery­thing I was feel­ing; just this mass of words into my phone.

“Jules would be in surgery for eight hours and I would be ter­ri­fied. Scared for my wife and kids.

“When Jules read it all, she said that should be the begin­ning of your mu­sic, that’s the next record.”

New al­bum Equals is a poignant re­flec­tion of the tough times Mike and Jules have both been through.

Mike him­self re­cov­ered from lymph cancer in 1996 and was di­ag­nosed with a rare form of leukaemia in 2005. Af­ter an ini­tial re­cov­ery, he suf­fered a re­lapse in 2015.

Jules, who plays pi­ano and sings back­ing vo­cals with The Alarm, says: “There were times I would be sit­ting by his hospi­tal bed not know­ing if he was go­ing to make it and think­ing ‘this is it’ and about our baby at home” – the cou­ple have two sons Dy­lan and Evan.

All band ac­tiv­ity was put on hold as the pair un­der­went treat­ment and it is only now, with both in re­mis­sion, that The Alarm are fir­ing on all cylin­ders again.

“The songs were built out of what I had be­come,” says 59-yearold Mike. “I learned a lot about my­self and my re­la­tion­ship with Jules, and it’s all there in the mu­sic.

“I didn’t set out to write about what we were go­ing through.”

The cou­ple met when Jules was a 19-year-old uni­ver­sity stu­dent and Mike smiles as he re­calls: “She did not know me, or the band or the mu­sic we played and that was re­ally re­fresh­ing. One of the first times she saw The Alarm play was when we sup­ported U2 at Cardiff Arms Park in 1987.

“I was so ner­vous about hav­ing her back­stage with me. I re­mem­ber we were stand­ing at the side of the stage watch­ing U2 and the Edge was play­ing a long solo.

“Bono just came over to us, put his arms around Jules and gave her a kiss on the fore­head and went back on stage.

“He’s al­ways re­mained a good friend and he’s still the same. What you see is what you get.”

Bono was among the first to of­fer his sup­port when Jules was told she had cancer and the cou­ple re­cently went to see him and U2 in con­cert in LA.

Jules ad­mits emo­tions will be run­ning high and there are likely to be a few tears when the new doc­u­men­tary is broad­cast next month.

“I’m start­ing to choke up just talk­ing about it,” she ad­mits. “It’s been a gru­elling two years. It’s not been easy and there have been melt­downs.

“I’d been ex­posed to cancer be­cause of Mike, but it’s been a mas­sive learn­ing curve for me.

“I’ve al­ways been a pos­i­tive per­son, but the treat­ment and hospi­tal vis­its be­come the norm and it is only now that it is no longer my norm.

“I think the hard­est part of the treat­ment was los­ing my hair. It’s such a big part of your fem­i­nin­ity and sex­u­al­ity and I felt mis­er­able.

“I’d wake up in the morn­ing and have to drag my­self out of bed. I’d be like ‘I don’t feel like go­ing to the record­ing stu­dio to­day you go with­out me.’ But Mike would get me there say­ing ‘You’re com­ing with me in the morn­ing so sort your­self out’.”

She laughs: “It was the right way to man­age me. I would be swear­ing like a trouper, but I’d get there.”

Formed in 1981 in the Welsh sea­side re­sort of Rhyl, the orig­i­nal band of The Alarm fea­tured Mike, Dave Sharp, Ed­die Mac­Don­ald and Nigel Twist.

The band went on to sell six

mil­lion al­bums while clock­ing up 17 top 50 sin­gles in the UK in­clud­ing tracks like Sixty Eight Guns, The Stand and Where Were You Hid­ing When The Storm Broke?.

Af­ter an emo­tional swan­song at Lon­don’s Brix­ton Acad­emy in 1991, the orig­i­nal mem­bers went their sep­a­rate ways, with Mike launch­ing a solo ca­reer and join­ing forces with Billy Duffy in a short-lived band called Coloursøund.

The lin­ger­ing al­lure of his old group, how­ever, proved hard to re­sist and Mike en­tered a new mil­len­nium back at the helm of The Alarm, who will be tour­ing the UK this au­tumn and there are al­ready plans to re­lease another new al­bum be­fore the end of the year.

Mike says: “The tur­bu­lence of the last few years has shaken The Alarm’s world to its core but we have sur­vived the chal­lenges and are now ready for the next steps, which is per­form­ing the mu­sic live with our fans adding to the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“My­self and the band are primed and ready to give ev­ery­thing we have to make this year a life-af­firm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all our fans.”

Jules points out: “Mike is eight years older than me and I’ve al­ways looked at him for guid­ance.

“There was no room in his psy­che for moan­ing or whin­ing about his cancer.

“I lived with the scary sit­u­a­tion with Mike for a long time and I think we both now have a extra zest for life. Many peo­ple know how pre­cious life is ... but we re­ally do.”

Equals (pic­tured left) is out now through The Twenty First Cen­tury Record­ing Com­pany (man­u­fac­tured and distributed by InGrooves). Go to for more de­tails.

Mike and Jules Peters Pic­ture by Ar­wyn Roberts

Bono (cen­tre) with Jules, Mike, Dy­lan and Evan

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