James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)

James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)

‘Hobo’ Jim opens up about recent terminal cancer diagnosis

Varsos was named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

KENAI — James Varsos, better known to Alaskans as singer-songwriter Hobo Jim, announced over the weekend that he has been given less than a year to live after being diagnosed with end-stage cancer.

The performer, who resides on the Kenai Peninsula, wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he had been experiencing “intense pain” during the Alaska State Fair at the beginning of the month. After traveling to play a few more gigs in the Lower 48, Varsos was hospitalized in Nashville, Tennessee.

“After three days of pricks, pokes and probes I was diagnosed with end stage cancer,” he wrote on Facebook. “The cancer (which I didn’t know I had) had spread through my system and had several very large tumors.”

Doctors gave Varsos three to six months to live, he said.

The singer-songwriter has recorded multiple albums throughout his career and has collaborated with artists such as Reba McEntire, Ricky Nelson and Randy Travis, according to Travel Alaska. Varsos was also named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

The performer spent many years working in Alaska as a fisherman, logger and a cowboy, according to his Facebook biography, before taking up music.

“I would like to say I am not afraid,” Varsos wrote on Facebook after his diagnosis. “It is, however, very hard to feel the pain of those I leave behind, especially that of my beautiful wife of 42 years.”

He wrote that he has had a blessed life up until this point.

“I have been able to make a living making people happy,” Varsos wrote. “I have seen a great deal of the world and all in all, life has been grand and fulfilling. Keep me in your hearts Alaska as you will be forever in mine.”

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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