Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Soundtrack of My Cancer Journey

Music, lyrics, theater, have always been a very central part of my life. Artistic expression is cathartic, it's healing and it creates connections with others and within yourself unlike anything else can. I have no doubt that music, writing and creativity were absolutely essential to my healing process. Embedded are the three songs that I consider the "soundtrack" of my cancer battle. Of course mixed among these were many others that geared me up, sated me, helped me to understand, no matter what mood I was in.

I would play these three songs to and from appointments at the Avon Cancer Center when I was driving by myself. The song length worked exactly with the distance between there and my house. I'd listen to them in the order I have them below. I'd always sing along at full tilt, windows down.

I've seen Rent, the musical, five times, but its messages never hit me so hard. I was always drawn to the story of those "living with, not dying from disease" and the struggles and triumphs of the story's characters. Maybe I've been so affected by it because it was a premonition of my own life. Though the story is focused on HIV/AIDS, no matter what the obstacle, we all experience the same feelings of isolation, fear, anger, and constant questioning.

"One Song Glory" always hit me hard because to me its about making your mark, about finding meaning in this crazy life, about wanting desperately to do everything you can before you die - especially when the prospect of death dangles precariously close.

The "credo" in the second song "Will I?" is sung during a Life Support meeting for "people coping with life" in the show. It became my personal credo as my life grew harder to cope with. The musical arrangement is so incredibly beautiful and inspiring. I still cannot listen to it without crying.

Jason Mraz's "Life is Wonderful" is simple and beautiful. It always picked me up and helped me to keep a positive perspective.

Play these as loudly as your speakers can handle. And if you don't know the words already, learn them, and sing your heart out. Enjoy the results.

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