TikTok ‘Piano Grandad’ diagnosed with cancer after raising thousands for charity

A TikTok grandad who has raised thousands of pounds for cancer research by playing piano has been diagnosed with the disease himself.

Alan Melinek, 85, announced that he is battling pancreatic cancer via the app after fundraising for Cancer Research UK since the death of his wife from ovarian cancer in 2006.

Mr Melinek, a former dentist from Watford in north-west London, fell in love with piano playing from an early age and met his wife of 46 years, Pat, at a jazz club in Soho.

He began raising money by playing concerts in Pat’s memory after she died aged 66.

One of Mr Melinek’s grandsons, Grant, has also survived stage-four neuroblastoma – a type of cancer which forms in nerve tissues.

When live events were cancelled during lockdown, Mr Melinek’s granddaughter Bella introduced him to TikTok, and he has since accrued more than 48,000 followers.

Millions of people around the world now tune in to hear his renditions of classical, pop and jazz tunes.

Piano Grandad
Alan Melinek with his wife Pat, who died of ovarian cancer in 2006 (Cancer Research UK/PA).

Mr Melinek, who also goes by the nickname Piano Grandad, has renewed his request for donations for the charity after revealing his diagnosis.

In his latest TikTok post, the grandad of 14 said: “I’m posting today with some difficult news.

“As you know I have been raising money for Cancer Research UK in honour of my wife.

“This week I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is now closer to my heart than ever before.

“I’m so grateful for everyone’s love and support. The most important thing to me has always been to beat this disease.

“Please donate, even £1! We can and will beat this disease together.”

Piano Grandad
Alan Melinek playing the piano with his granddaughter Bella, who introduced him to TikTok, where his performances are now watched by millions (Cancer Research UK/PA).

Mr Melinek’s fund currently stands at more than £5,000, and donations almost doubled after he announced his diagnosis.

His daughter, Liz Melinek, said that the family has been “shattered” by Mr Melinek’s diagnosis, but the outpouring of donations is “lifting his spirits”.

She said: “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.”

She added: “Dad really wants his story to highlight how important it is to keep funding Cancer Research UK.

“He normally walks four miles a day and plays the piano every day. This has stopped him in his tracks.

“However, he is lucky to have an amazing doctor who is hopeful they may be able to try some pioneering surgery to remove his pancreas, if he is a good candidate for it.

“And this just demonstrates how important continued research is and how the money raised genuinely saves lives.”

To find out more about Mr Melinek’s fundraising, visit fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/grandads-piano-fundraiser.