“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” -Bob Marley
You’ll have to excuse me for not rolling out the red carpet. Unlike the music award shows that are held in Nashville, this isn’t exactly the type of event that anyone would really celebrate. Instead of a guest list that features the likes of Charlie Daniels, Reba McEntire, or Sturgill Simpson (like he’d show up anyway), our only guest is uninvited. It crashes the party that we call life, and makes itself at home. I’m talking about cancer, or in Angie’s case, Invasive Ductal Mammary Carcinoma.
Over the course of the next several months, my wife, Angelica Dones, and I will begin the eviction of this unwanted guest. I will share with you information about our battle, as well as the music that we use to cope, empower, and move forward. Each post will feature a link to a new customized Spotify playlist that will give you an opportunity to step into our shoes and experience this battle as we do. You may not lose your hair. You may not experience fatigue. But, you will hear how we decorate our time battling a stage IIB cancer.
On a Friday in November, I came home to find Angie on the porch and her work car in the driveway. She never gets home from work before I do. Twenty minutes prior, she had called me and asked that I come home from the office. I couldn’t tell you how far along I made it down Ellington Parkway before I realized I wasn’t listening to any music. I remedied the silence by turning on SiriusXM, the Tom Petty Channel, just as I had left it that morning. As I walked up the steps, Angie was sitting at our bistro table, hunched over and ending a conversation on the phone. The leaves on the Bradford Pear Trees in our yard had just started falling that week, a sign of the coming changes.
That was the day we found out. That’s the day everything flipped over into the Upside Down. I broke down in tears as Angie struggled to say three words, four syllables, “I have cancer.” She sobbed as I put my arms around her. It wouldn’t be another several weeks until we got the full diagnosis. But, in that moment on the porch, we were hurting as if Angie was handed a death sentence.
Let me tell you this now: Angie isn’t dying.
There is no amount of time greater than the weeks spent waiting for your wife’s cancer diagnosis, at least from what I can tell. After we spent an entire afternoon calling our immediate family, all we did was wait without a definite answer to the question, “Is it bad?” We were ready to get some solid information so we could plow forward and beat the cancer!! But, as I read in the book Breast Cancer Husband, any good doctor will double-check an MRI or biopsy before declaring the stage of a cancer, even if it means following up with a repeat of prior tests. The following weeks were spotted with visits to the Cancer Center at St Thomas, in Nashville. Angie would have to go through two biopsies and an MRI before we met with a medical oncologist.
At this point, we now know the extent of the disease of which we are dealing. We know chemotherapy will start on December 18th. Her port will be installed this Friday. We do know there will be a mastectomy. I imagine as things develop, she and I will begin to find new appreciation for things we may not have given enough time or thought. One thing we have always had a deep appreciation for is music. Heck, while we were on the elevator headed up to see the oncologist for the first time, Angie was on her phone trying to snag tickets to see Margo Price at the Ryman. Fortunately, music radiates in our lives, and we’ve used it to help us cope with the news of cancer. Also, let me point out that Angie listened to B.I.G. and Salt-N-Pepa when I first met her. Eight years later, she’s trying to see Margo Price in concert. I’m proud of that progress.
I asked Angie if there are any songs she’s giving special attention to lately because of the song’s message and how it relates to the cancer.
“Most of the music I’ve listened to as of late has given me the wonderful gift of forgetfulness. The artists that have been on heavy rotation have allowed me to escape. I just groove to them, or belt out like a motherfucker (mostly alone, you’re welcome, public). Yaeji, Kendrick, Zephaniah Ohora, Whitney Houston . . . “
Damn, I guess Bob was right.
Click For Playlist: