'A life's dream' sees musician with brain cancer leaving a legacy

A diagnosis of brain cancer nearly a year ago has given a Kiwi musician renewed energy to leave a musical legacy by recording an album of his own songs.

The diagnosis of a cancer with an average survival of about 12 months has been far form a knock-back for Jonathan Densem, Seven Sharp reported.

Jonathan Densem was diagnosed nearly a year ago, with the average survival about 12 months. Source: Seven Sharp

Instead, he has taken on board everything he's read about survival.

"Everything I've read about long-term survival talks about having something, not just to live for, but to strive for to create what is really close to your heart... and close to the most important things that you've got. And for me that's family and music," Mr Densem said.

"It's about a life's dream really. I've been writing songs for 20 something years.

"Life gets in the way, kids, you've got to earn money, teaching, working. Suddenly you go 'I'm pushing 50 and I haven't recorded my music'."

He said making the album was extremely helpful to him.

"The doctor's saying the average in my case is a year. But even my doctor said I'm not average." 

The slight problem of the expense of recording an album has been solved by people's incredible kindness, among them, the team at Roundhead Studios, Seven Sharp reported. 

Greg Haver of the studios said he was amazed Jonathan hadn't recorded before.

Mr Densem and his wife Emma Smethan have been through a lot even before his diagnosis, the programme reported.

When they escaped the Black Saturday bushfires in Melbourne, in February 2009, Ms Smethan, who was nine months pregnant, went into labour.

Then, to avoid more natural disasters, they decided to move to Canterbury in 2010, and Mr Densem said his teaching studio in the Christchurch Arts Centre was badly damaged in the earthquake.

Now, grateful for the "absolutely phenomenal" generosity of people helping with money, time and space for his recording, he says when the album is in his hands it will "feel like 17 Christmases at once".

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