The Australian Idol winner and his family have been plagued by a killer gene, but the young star refuses to let it get him down.
Behind Stan Walker’s infectious smile and sweeter-than-honey voice lurks a frightening and real cancer threat that would fill most people with a sense of terror and dread.
The Australian Idol winner, whose single, Black Box, has hit number one in New Zealand, is a member of an extended Bay of Plenty Maori family who for generations were plagued by aggressive and deadly hereditary stomach cancer.
Ground-breaking research by Otago University scientists, combined with detailed records kept by the family, identified a mutant cancer gene responsible for the deaths of about 25 family members over 30 years.
The discovery meant the entire family, including Stan, could be tested.
“We’ve got the gene. Me and mum,” reveals Stan, 19, whose parents both descend from members of the cancer-plagued family.
The talented singer has regular gastroscopy examinations to check for early signs of the disease.
“They thought I had cancer last year, because I was bleeding from inside, but
it was nothing. I was in my gown and I was just about to go in [for tests] and they said, ‘It’s probably nothing but you might have cancer’.
I freaked out, I was like ‘I’m gonna die!’” Despite the obviously frightening moment, as Stan tells the story, he can’t help but laugh at how scared he was.