I'm reading a story about this guy who's in five different bands (yes, five) who's playing a cancer benefit in Illinois next weekend. His story from Galesburg.com:
“It was in the summertime of 2005. I was playing one night and I couldn’t stand up,” Allen said. “Now, I have arthritis pretty bad — but this was something else.
“It was something I had never felt before and I was worried.”
Allen is used to overcoming physical obstacles. At the age of 18 months, he was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Among numerous other complications, the illness can cause slow growth rate and uneven growth of limbs. Allen’s JRA stayed in remission until he was 7.
Despite the difficulties, Allen earned a degree in music performance and has been a fixture on the local music scene for years.
Perhaps because of his pre-existing condition, doctors struggled to find out what was wrong with Allen during the summer of 2005. Everything from a pinched nerve to fibromyalgia was considered a possibility.
“I couldn’t stand up and just seemed to be getting worse,” he said. “I was lying in an emergency room bed and my dad walked in and said ‘I’m gonna tell you straight out what the doctors told me. You have cancer.’
“It turned out that I had a tumor the size of a grapefruit lodged in my lower spine. It was non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
Used to fighting a body that others might consider a betrayal, Allen did not despair.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I got pissed,” he said. “I had just quit smoking and was eating healthier. I had cut down on my drinking and started exercising. I was doing everything to get healthier and then this tumor popped up. I was so pissed.”
Fear crept in later.
“The first couple of weeks, lying in the hospital, people would come and visit,” he said. “Seeing family and friends crying really shook me up. I got to the point — even though everyone meant well — that I couldn’t stand to hear people cry.
“I was going to beat it.”
And that’s what Allen did — quickly. He responded to chemotherapy treatments and by December 2005 he was told he was cancer free.
“It’s been almost five years to the day that I was diagnosed with cancer,” Allen said. “That’s the main reason I go to Relay For Life events always.
“I was very lucky. Not everyone gets lucky.”
Amen to that brother.