On March 30, Michael Tiernan blogged, “I launched Project Strong this past Tuesday, the day of my brother’s birthday, and I’ve already received tons of interested people who will be contributing content for the video. Amazing! Going through these stories of cancer is...tear-jerking and super-encouraging.”
A Vista resident and former theology student, Tiernan has won several awards for his music, most recently making it to the semifinals of the 2010 International Song Contest. A track from his last album was used on the MTV show The Real World. But, right now, Tiernan’s talking about his brother Joe’s death from cancer in 2009.
“It was the most devastating experience of my life,” says the 38-year-old singer/songwriter. “I frequently have dreams of him as he was right before he passed. In his last couple months, it had ravaged his body.... It takes a lot to see the beauty and not get stuck on the ugly, but it’s in there.”
Michael Tiernan survived testicular cancer at the age of 16. “I wasn’t religious at the time but later came to retranslate that as a turning point. Spontaneous remission? Miracle? Either way, it changed my life.”
He describes Project Strong as “a vision that I had. Even before my brother died I was involved with cancer survivorship. I’ve always wanted to form a foundation to provide concerts for patients fighting cancer.... I played for my brother during one of his last treatments, quietly in the corner. When the doctor passed by, he stopped and shouted, ‘Finally! Someone’s trying to bring some joy to this place!’”
For Project Strong, Tiernan’s “making a video to my song ‘Strong.’ I want to fill it with images and footage from people who’ve been affected by cancer as young adults. I currently have about 25 people contributing images.... My challenge is to create something inspiring and hopeful, without being a downer.”
On May 25, Tiernan performs at the Belly Up in Solana Beach as part of the New Acoustic Generation series that he launched in 1995.