As a stage IV HPV throat cancer survivor, listening to music really helped me when I was struggling through chemo and radiation treatments back in 2014. When I think about how different life could have been for my wife, kids, family and friends had I not beaten cancer, music inspires me to be strong and remain positive so that I can share my story to protect others from HPV related cancers. Knowing that the HPV Vaccine can protect generations of boys & girls from this cancer motivates me to speak out. Back in 2014, five days a week, I would wear a plastic radiation mask so that my head could be clipped down to a table for approximately 15 minutes daily to receive radiation to my throat. It was the music on my iPhone that enabled me to understand how soon the treatment would be end. With each song, I knew that I was one step closer to having my mask unclipped and the large metal door opened so that I could leave the protected room. One of the songs that gave me strength was recommended to me by my mother: If You’re Going Through Hell by Rodney Atkins:
I loved this song because it helped me realize that treatment was all temporary. It reminded me that the pain from surgery was also temporary, and that if I would simply fight through it all, I would be fine. Over time I taught myself how to separate my mind from my body, endure the pain and mental gymnastics of cancer, and focus on the people I loved and how life would be after cancer. Although I was extremely weak, and for approximately one month in bed 18 hours a day, music allowed me to think about my future, and all that I wanted to accomplish.
Tonight while I was working on business emails, I decided to take a break and watch a few videos from Americas Got Talent. I came across the following song performed by three siblings who lost their mother to cancer. It reminded me yet again how important music can be, and how happy I am that I survived and can watch my kids grow up. Many of you who know my story, know that I made videos to my kids saying goodbye, before I realized that I was going to beat cancer. This song brought tears to my eyes, as it’s clear how much these three kids loved their mother. While listening to it, I got choked up realizing that had my situation been different, my kids could have written a similar song to me.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. My goal in writing it is to provide strength for those battling cancer and/or dealing with the mental gymnastics that can follow it. I hope these songs give you strength and confidence to power through whatever you are feeling, and as I always say, Please Remember, It’s All Temporary.