Johnny Anderson tells us the story of his band REACH and their innovative ‘Get Past This’ campaign. He explains how songwriting helped him cope with his mum's breast cancer diagnosis.

Tuesday 11 April 2017      Community blog
The band at BBC Bristol

The band at BBC Bristol publicising their campaign

REACH is a new band whose members are carving their own path in the music world. The band started recording in 2016 and one of their first tracks was called, ‘Get Past This’. It quickly became a fan favourite with its melodic hook and catchy chorus. However, it hides an underlying message that, until recently, had been kept close to writer and singer, Johnny Anderson.

The story behind the song

Johnny’s mum, Sue Anderson, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, when Johnny was just 16. After coming through that first battle, Sue received the bad news at the end of 2014 that her cancer had returned. Johnny, together with his two brothers, lived a large part of their lives with cancer in their immediate family, and it is this experience that led Johnny to processing it in the way he knows best; through his music. ‘Get Past This’ holds a powerful message of hope and determination for all those affected by cancer – find your own way to overcome and be positive about the future.

REACH decided to make the song available via download earlier this year, and it was only then that Johnny opened up about the song and the importance of how it helps him deal with his situation.

An optimistic outlook

Johnny had created this way of channeling his feelings with such an optimistic outlook, so REACH decided they wanted to do something positive with the song. As this was such a unique and powerful way to raise awareness, they asked Breast Cancer Now if they could use the song to highlight how breast cancer affects so many people, as well as to raise money. The Andersons have been regular fundraisers for the charity (previously Breakthrough Breast Cancer) since 2004.

Lorna Thomas, a Community Engagement Officer at Breast Cancer Now, recognised the potential of such a unique approach, and the band will be launching the ‘Get Past This’ campaign this April.

A new acoustic recording of the song will be made available for digital download and all donations will go to Breast Cancer Now. The campaign will be launched on 13 April with a special acoustic gig in their hometown of Weston-super-Mare.

We asked Johnny to tell us, in his own words, about his journey to date.

Johnny’s story

I grew up in south west London with a passion for music, but have since moved to Somerset because my mum wanted to be closer to her parents, who live in a small village near Bristol.

My mum first had breast cancer when I was 16 years old. When I found out, I didn’t handle it well at all, you never think it will happen, then….BAM! Seeing what it did to my family is what inspired me to fundraise for Breast Cancer Now.

People need to know to do their best and help each other out. You don’t want to have to go through this on your own, because you are not the only one, and I want to help people understand this.

My bandmates in REACH decided to do an acoustic version of ‘Get Past This’ that we will offer alongside our original version to raise donations. We’ve had great support from the local venue and recording studios in organising everything. The song will be available to download on 13 April 2017, and we’re looking to raise as much money for Breast Cancer Now as possible.

Everyone has been so supportive, including the REACH fans, our ‘REACH Peepz’, as it’s a great cause that affects so many people. Receiving news of people willing to help just blows us away. My family have been raising funds since 2004, so I definitely have plans to continue raising money for Breast Cancer Now. Perhaps I’ll look to establish this ‘Get Past This’ campaign as an annual music event.

If I could say anything to someone thinking of raising money for Breast Cancer Now, I would say ‘just do it!’ We want to raise as much as possible, and keep it going for as long as possible. We play music for the love of music, and hopefully we can help make a difference with this song.

More information

You can keep up to date with the band's fundraising by following them on Facebook and Twitter, and visiting their JustGiving page.