Sound waves and a dove

The Soundtrack of My Journey

I was diagnosed with stage IV in early June of 2006. It was a very trying time for me as you might guess. Nobody wants to hear they are dying. Oddly enough it was just what I needed to hear, I just didn’t know it at the time.

Live like you were dying

I don’t know if it was irony or divine intervention that the first time I heard the Tim McGraw song Live Like You Were Dying was shortly after my diagnosis. I remember it like yesterday. We were in a hat store in Seaside, Oregon trying on silly hats as the song started playing over the radio.

For anyone who has never heard the song it is about a guy, much like myself, in his early 40’s who receives the worst news possible. The author asks him, “What does a guy do when he gets that kind of news?” His reply is very inspiring for anyone who has found themselves in that situation. He went sky diving, mountain climbing, bull riding, as well as learned to love and be a better man. The last line of the chorus sets the hook. “He said some day I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying!” I believe the point most often overlooked about the song is that he obviously lived to tell the story and impart the wisdom he had gleaned in the process. We should never wait for something bad to happen to begin living our lives.

That song was just what I needed at the time and I took it to heart. I set out to live every day as my last and choke the life out of every moment. So far I am still here and still living each day for all I can get out of it.

And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

There is one other song that has meant a lot to me throughout the course of this journey. Hallelujah is a song originally written and recorded by Leonard Cohen but the song never really gained a lot of traction until Jeff Buckley, who recorded the song in 1994, died in 1997. After his death there was renewed interest in his work and the song became popular in the United States.

The song is often thought of as a religious song but the true meaning (death of passion in a relationship) of the song hit much closer to home for myself and presumably all late stage prostate cancer patients. The last line of the fourth verse, “Remember when I moved in you and the holy dove was moving too and every breath we drew was Hallelujah!” still brings me to tears.

Advanced prostate cancer treatment usually spells the death of physical passion in a relationship. Even when a semblance of intimacy remains, the truth is, it will never be the same. It is hardest on our partners who are still cursed with a libido that mostly goes unfulfilled. When I listen to this song, it is often heard from what I consider to be my sweetheart's perspective. It helps me to step outside of myself and put her needs first.

Finding meaning in music

I only have these two songs that have influenced my journey. There have been many along the way that had a profound influence on moments but these two have stood the test of time in my walk with cancer. I hope after reading this, they can help others as well.


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