‘Piano grandad’ lifting TikTok’s spirits by playing in wife’s memory is diagnosed with cancer

1 June 2021, 12:12

85-year-old viral TikTok pianist diagnosed with cancer
85-year-old viral TikTok pianist diagnosed with cancer. Picture: pianograndad / TikTok

By Rosie Pentreath

Pianist Alan Melinek, who has been delighting TikTok with his poignant playing, announced his diagnosis in a post.

85-year-old pianist Alan Melinek, who has raised thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK after setting up a TikTok account, has announced that he’s been diagnosed with cancer.

The pianist, who lost his wife of nearly 50 years to ovarian cancer when she was 66, created a TikTok account during lockdown in 2020 to share his music-driven fundraising, and has since garnered a huge following and widespread support for his cause.

Now a post from Melinek has shared the sad news that the pianist himself has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Read more: Dad with dementia’s piano playing is a powerful reminder that music heals

“I am posting today with some difficult news,” the pianist says in his announcement. “As you know, I have been raising money for cancer research in honour of my wife. This week, I was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is now closer to my heart than ever before.”

Over the video of him performing a Schubert Impromptu (above), he continues to say, “I am so grateful for everyone’s love and support. The most important thing to me has always been to beat the disease,” inviting viewers of the video to donate. “We can and will beat this disease together.”

Melinek describes teaching himself the piano from the age of 12 and having the dream of being a concert pianist. “I always wanted to be a concert pianist but was forced down the sensible path of dentistry,” he writes on his website.

He has thrown himself into performing, and raising money for cancer research through local concerts. He invites people to donate what they can, in memory of the millions of people who lose their lives to cancer every year. “If we had received just £1 for every view we would be heading towards a whopping million pound donation by now!” his website says.

Since setting up his TikTok account with granddaughter Bella’s help, the ‘Piano Grandad’ has amassed nearly 50,000 followers and over 500,000 Likes on his videos. He has raised over £5,000.

Speaking about the news of her dad’s diagnosis, his daughter Liz Melinek has told Evening Standard, “It has been wonderful to see the campaign do so well but the irony that he has now been diagnosed with cancer himself has shattered us as a family.

“However, we are trying to find silver linings and every donation is really lifting his spirits. Dad really wants his story to highlight how important it is to keep funding Cancer Research UK.”

Visit www.pianograndad.com to find out more and donate.