Smile — You’re on Cancer Camera!

Hospital Hoedown

As most people reading this blog already know, I’m a songwriter and performer (as well as an ESL teacher). Many of my songs are of an inspirational bent so I play most of my gigs at spiritual centers in California. This past February my spirit was tested to the max, and it’s still in good shape as I write this.

Arriving at Unity of Davis that February morning, I informed Reverend Larry that due to the breathing problem I was experiencing, I would prefer to do the songs sitting down that Sunday. I just thought I was suffering from an unusually bad case of asthma. He took one look at me and said not to worry about the music, that he and the music director would take care of it and that I should just go take care of myself.

Since I was also shaking with fever, I reluctantly agreed. Mindy whisked me off to the local ER, and after a few tests the doctor informed me that he was amazed I’d been able to walk in under my own power… since I had one-third the red blood cells of a normal adult male. Breathing problem wasn’t due to asthma, turns out, but to severe iron-deficiency anemia — like from a bleeding tumor, maybe? ER doc also told us I likely would be spending the week in the hospital since he surmised that I had colon cancer that had metastasized to my liver!

“Cancer!?” Mindy and I groaned in unison, feeling like we’d dropped through a trapdoor. As far as I knew, I was one of the healthiest people in my circle of friends. We refused to let the news dampen our spirits too much, though. We know the power of staying positive during any healing quest. After my third saltwater drip I tried to cheer up the nurse with a bad joke: “Guess I’d rather be saline”.

After what would turned out to be only the first blood transfusion of my week, they put me in an ambulance to Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. Nobody bothered to tell us that the ride wasn’t covered by our insurance or we’d have driven ourselves and saved 3,000 bucks (news we got four months later).

Once ensconced on the oncology ward at Alta Bates, Mindy refused to leave my side, even when it was time to go to sleep. So I made a space in my little bed and she snuggled in next to me for the night. Rules were broken but apparently her devotion made an impression, because next morning we were transferred to a private room, which made the whole experience much easier.

And so ended Day One of my cancer dance. Claire soon arrived to provide practical assistance, good cheer, and moral support for Mindy and me. Thanks so much, sister!

The nurses too were great, kind and efficient. By the end of the week, my fevers had been quelled and my hemoglobin raised and I felt much better, apart from my bloated feeling from having twenty-five pounds (seriously) of various infusions still sloshing around in my body. (Needless to say, for the next week I was never far from the john.)

Had two jam sessions in the hospital room over the next few days, one with my new-ish friend, world-class violinist turned ukulele master Jim Shallenberger, the other with old buddy John Remenarich. Mindy and Claire helped me invent some new lyrics, such as: “Another Cat Scan, such endurance! You must have some good insurance. Don’t worry. Be happy.” Luckily we do have good insurance, golden in fact. The bill for that first week in the hospital was $130,000 yet we owed only $50 of it for the emergency room visit.

But what happens when the therapies you really want aren’t covered? That’s when it all starts getting tricky…

(to be continued)


  1. Tad, you look, as always, sweet, cute, and handsome–with your pixie grin and blue eyes! I’m on board with you on this journey, and of course love it when I can get some of that Mindy soup that is so special. Keep on keeping on–your voice is one that I love, your heart too.
    Love, Linda Joy

  2. Wen Daniels says

    Hi Tad,
    Love your attitude! We have a lot in common. I am a long term survivor of advanced breast cancer. I developed a very strict program for myself which combined many modalities of mind, body, spirit healing. I combined chemo with about 70 different nutriments. I undertand how you feel about the chemo. I was against it myself. However, I just knew that I would need lots of time to get up to speed on the other modalities – especially the emotional and spiritual. And, I didn’t have the money to get any of the Mexican alternative therapies. In addition, I had to work to support myself. It just is not possible for most folks to juice every hour at work – as some therapies demand.

    However, I really believed in the power of visualizations to change everything. So, I used the Simonton method to visualize not only my white blood cells (White Wolves) killing the cancer cells – 15 minutes 3 times per day – but I also used the anti-cancer visualization process to help protect myself from chemo’s toxic effects.

    It really is amazing how powerful these visualizations can be. After my White Wolves attacked the cancer cells every day, I visualized a large field full of dead cells in my chest. Well, I knew that it would be important to get them out of my body ASAP. So, I loaded those dead cells into train cars with the help of an army of strong workers and then I dumped the contents of the frieght cars into my kidneys and liver. I then visualized them leaving my body and going into the toilet.

    In the end, my oncologist was amazed and said, “You made a miracle happen.”

    At first, I was just trying to survive. That was my goal. However, that goal changed after a number of months of visualizing, meditating, and doing psychological/spiritual work. Later, my goal became to simply become whole. Who could ask for more? And, I figured, physical healing might just be a side effect of that wholeness.

    In the end, I was able to transform the cancer experience into a gift – to myself and to the world. I fight the injustices of insurance denials from HMOs and other types of insurances. During the last 9 years I have been able to counsel and win cases for hundreds of cancer patients. By the way, did you appeal that ambulance bill?

    I used to be a human rights activist in the war zones of El Salvador and Nicaragua. I went to UC Berkeley. I loved working in the war zones for many years. You are right about the “rage against injustice” negativity though. Later, problems developed within the leadership of the movements that I was involved with. That created a great deal of resentment for me. I do believe it played a part in depressing my immune system.

    However, my cancer experience changed all that. The one thing that can help you beat cancer is JOY! In that respect, cancer saved my live. Cancer taught me how to be joyful no matter what.

    Oh, I also wanted to mention that I have been taking AHCC/Immpower and Avemar/AveUltra for a number of years now. As far as I can see, AveUltra has the same amount of Avemar that was used in the clinical studies. I take it. And the company that makes it has been very generous in helping poor patients obtain it. Many of us can’t afford to buy these expensive nutriments. The donation of the product has helped so many cancer patients who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

    I am also a member of Unity. I expect to see you singing at my church in the future.

    Take care. Please feel free to contact me if you need any additional info on the visualizations or insurance help. Please see: Getting Well Again – Dr. O Carl Simonton – to learn how these visualizations have helped cancer patients during the last 30 years.

  3. Hey Uncle tad, as you know I heard the news. So that’d be great if we could coordinate a time to call. I also wanna visit sometime soon and do some college visits while I’m at it.
    happy late birthday anf feel better soon. =)


Speak Your Mind