Spirit of the West Fans Helping Frontman John Mann

Spirit of the West will be retiring after two shows next April in Vancouver as frontman John Mann’s struggle with early onset Alzheimer’s is making performing increasingly difficult.

Now his friends and family are asking for fans’ help in funding experimental stem cell therapy that might make his time more enjoyable.

New treatments like this aren’t covered by Canada’s national health care system, and new therapies aren’t cheap. A crowdfunding effort has been established on Generosity.com and, as of Dec. 15,  more than $45,800 had been raised toward a $50,000 USD total in just eight days. The $50,000 will cover one round of therapy, the site notes.

“He knows he is in the cross-hairs of that dreaded disease and wants, as we all would, to get better if possible, and preserve what he still has, no matter what it takes,” his family writes on the site. “John is an award winning musician, songwriter, a beloved actor of stage and screen, and an indefatigable supporter of many charities. He, his wife, family and friends now wish to pursue what is frankly a last chance treatment so that every possibility has been exhausted, and every reasonable attempt has been made to prolong his life.”


In an interview last week with the Vancouver Province, John’s wife, actor-writer Jill Daum, compared the support pouring in from friends and strangers alike is overwhelming.
“We just look at it and then cry—it’s a little bit like being at your own funeral,” she says. “Which is funny, because we’re doing it so that John won’t have a funeral as quickly as otherwise.”
The treatment Mann is hoping to undergo is similar to that used on hockey legend Gordie Howe last year when he suffered a traumatic stroke. The Province reports Mann’s been taking a series of drugs that has “improved his condition and enabled him to continue performing, but ultimately those with Alzheimer’s face a shortened lifespan of seven to 10 years after diagnosis. As well, the decline can be faster among those diagnosed at a younger age.”
If the fundraising effort is successful, first Mann and Daum will travel to Mexico early next month for treatment. She was initially hesitant to accept help, but Mann’s bandmates and family started the effort on his behalf.
For more information and to make a contribution, please go here. We’re wishing John, Jill and their loved ones all the best.
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