Any and all news about Candye Kane will be posted here as it comes in, so check back frequently. If you know of something that should be included, send it in! There's a dedicated page for news about her cancer.
UPDATE: 5/21/10 - Notes from the road
The tour has been going wonderfully here in Europe! We left the states on a real high after the National Blues Awards in Memphis. We lost our awards to the great Tommy Castro for BB King Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Blues CD of the year, and I lost for Best Contemporary Blues Female to the awesome Ruthie Foster – but both of them are friends of mine who gave generously during my pancreatic cancer struggle two years ago.
It was amazing to be nominated so many times (this makes it four nominations total!) and to actually perform at the awards. We all had a tremendous time and seeing Buddy Guy presented the lifetime achievement award from Bonnie Raitt was an award onto itself. It was so fun seeing all my musician friends. None of us get much of a chance to hang out because we are always criss-crossing each other across the country so it was really fun to be in the same room with so many incredible people who keep this music alive all year round. Check out my photos on my myspace and facebook pages.
Then we jetted off to my favorite city, Amsterdam where we biked around town for a day before leaving for Oslo, Norway. We played a super fun show at Buckleys Bluesklubb and got to see a real Viking ship at the Viking museum with our Norwegian hosts, Rolf, Kristen, Ellen and Alex (who had performed with Louisiana Red just days prior at the blues awards!). We had a great show in Lillehammer at Paddys Bluesklubb. The people there were lovely and really seemed to enjoy the music. Its been a long time since I was back in Norway (I think Notodden was the last time, several years ago so it was cool to be back.)
Next stop was Kwadendamme blues festival in the Netherlands. RJ Mischo sat in for one song and that was awesome. The festival promoters wanted us to stay in the church house behind the cathedral, as we were performing there the next day but none of us felt comfortable there. They had these little camping cots set up for us in the rectory with lots of religious statuary everywhere and more crucifixes than I have ever seen in one place, EVER. Even though Laura attended Catholic school as a young girl and I have my own family history of Catholicism and attraction to the beauty of religious art, neither one of us felt comfortable sleeping under pictures of Jesus with his bleeding forehead so we opted for a nearby hotel instead. Besides, when youre on the road, sleep is essential and camping cots just cant cut it. The show at the church was especially amazing. To be able to lift my voice and channel Mahalia in a gothic cathedral was really awesome. I did some of my favorite spirituals like “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho” and “ Down by the Riverside.” There is some cool video of it on my youtube and facebook pages. It was great seeing Kees, the promoter of Kwadendamme doing so well. He also suffered from cancer at the same time as me.
Now we are here in Lithuania. We flew first to Bratislava, Slovakia. It was a lovely little town, although we didn’t get to see much of it as we went straight to the show in a museum full of scales and cash registers and posters from the 20s to the 50’s. It was a real interesting experience. This very loud heavy metal band opened for us called Love Blade. The audience was small but so generous and they really seemed to love the music. I was very curious about this tiny country that appears so poor. Apparently they were once all Czechoslovakia until after WWII when one side (Slovakia), sided with their nazi oppressors and one side, the Czech republic, did not. The Czech side got Prague during the split of the country and so the other side stays a bit poorer. Our hosts couldn’t have been more kind and accommodating but I couldn’t help but wonder whether all those scales and cash registers had been taken from Jewish merchants during the war. There were so many Jews once in Eastern Europe and most of them were merchants so scales and cash registers would have been important parts of their livelihoods. There is still a very large population of Jews in Eastern Europe but now they are mostly and tragically, all underground – in cemeteries.
We got no sleep after the show in Slovakia as we had to awaken at 3:30 am for a 4 am taxi to the airport and a five-hour layover in Prague. Prague is one of my favorite cities but all I got to see this time was a hard metal airport bench and I couldn’t sleep at all. We finally arrived here in Vilnius to this beautiful hotel and on the way, we heard “Bad Girl” played on the radio! That was very exciting! After a couple of hours of desperately needed nap time, we went straight to the venue. The show was opened by a darling 17 year old blues guitarist named David Smash. (This is the literal translation of his name from Lithuanian to English.) He is also opening for us tonight in Palanga. He apparently won a blues competition here against Poland. I find it very exciting that they have blues competitions here at all! The audience was packed at Club New York but generally the Lithuanians are very shy. They applauded ferociously and gave us an encore but they were very quiet. We will leave the hotel now and drive four hours to Palanga to play at Club Rayme on the seaside and then tomorrow, we fly to Croatia for the Zagreb Blues festival where I am the headliner!!
I haven’t played this part of the world much. I was scheduled to play here with the RUF Blues Caravan two years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer and Saida Shakura took my place, so its been fun to be able to revisit these places I missed while I was sick. The people here are so generous and so enthusiastic about blues!
After Croatia, we will return to the Netherlands for a few last shows and then several workshops and auditions for my charity, United by Music. I am thrilled to get back to Holland where I can ride my bike again and see all my lovely United by Music friends.
People ask me how I keep up with this hectic schedule and I have to say repeatedly, its my honor and privilege. The audiences give me their energy, the music heals me and I am blessed to be alive in this, and every moment. May we all appreciate every moment we have on this planet, whether its just sitting by a tree, driving to work, or reading quietly next to another living, breathing human!
Big love and gratitude,
Candye in Vilnius
We had an amazing tour of the Midwest for an entire month! I had just a few days off at home in between tours. Frankly, I am pretty tired and could have used some more downtime but now its back in the van and back to the grindstone. We are on our way up the West coast for shows in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Eugene and many more. The new cd, Superhero is out now on the Delta Groove Label and its doing great so far. Thanks to all of you who have ordered it online at www.deltagrooveproductions.com or helped it to be in the top 20 downloaded blues albums on Itunes. You guys rock!!
It was great seeing so many old and new friends in the Midwest. We had so many special, memorable nights and here are a few of the highlights; Bo ulder, Colorado at the Outlook Hotel - our friends and label mates, The Insomniacs sat in. That was awesome seeing them again and having them play with us. What a killer band! Another amazing night was in Eureka Springs at the Blues Festival when my longtime friend, classy harmonicat and gentleman, RJ Mischo sat in with us. It was great seeing RJ and his wife Heidi and we had a wonderful time in Eureka Springs. What a cool town! Kansas City was also special when pianist Bruce Katz, members of his band and the KC hometown heroes, Trampled Under Foot, sat in with us at Knuckleheads. We all had a fabulous evening jamming under the stars in KC. Dallas was fun when my friend, harp player Cheryl Arena sat in and sang a few. We also had a great bunch of shows in Michigan. I was really pleased to see so many people coming out to support live music in such a messed up economy. They are really feeling the heat in Michigan with unemployment at 12% so it meant so much to have so many beautiful music lovers spend their hard earned money on us!
We came home to San Diego and filmed a live DVD/CD for later relea se, at the first class venue, Anthology. It is such a beautiful setting and we are all excited to see the results. My friends Sue Palmer and Michele Lundeen sat in and made the evening even more incredible.
This month, there is an awesome feature story about me in Blues Revue Magazine www.bluesrevue.com I am very proud of the story by Stacy Jeffress and they also have a great review of our new cd.
I am also included in a new anthology compiled by my friend, award winning author, David Henry Sterry. The anthology features a short story of mine, called “ The Babysitters Secret.” The book is called: Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys and is available at amazon.com or at http://www.softskull.comWe will do a special reading for the book on July 26 in San Francisco and then again in NYC on August 6. The book features writers Annie Sprinkle, Carol Queen and yours truly. Sex workers current and former strip away the stiletto heels and G-strings, revealing their humanity in this funny, tragic, illuminating, inspiring, and unprecedented inclusive anthology.
I have a special show on July 15 at the Calypso Café in Leucadia with the wonderful Gypsy Jazz band, Gypsy Groove. The band features my former guitarist Jeff Ross and my ex husband, Thomas Yearsley on bass. Come down and hear us do some of your favorite standards, Django style. I am really looking forward to this show.
Things are going great up here in the gorgeous northwest, or superior California as Miss Laura Chavez calls it. I am so grateful for every day that I wake up and have the chance to make music. Even though I am a bit weary and have taken on a lot of work, I feel proud and resilient and thrilled as hell to be able to make music with people that I love. Please come out to a show soon and more importantly, please order the new cd. Most of the reviews are saying that its my best work ever! I hope you will agree.
Big Love and Gratitude to all;
We are deep into making our new cd for Delta Groove at Joey Altruidas studio on Melrose across from Paramount pictures. So far, we have recorded seven songs with the help of our amazing engineer Donnie Whitbeck of Karling Abbeygate fame. Laura Chavez and I are producing this cd ourselves and we are thus far, very proud of the results. The cd is tentatively titled Super Hero, after one of the songs I wrote.
It has almost been a year since my pancreatic cancer surgery (april 18) and so making this cd is a real miracle for me. I didnt even know if I would still be on this planet at this time last year. Its a real triumph to be back in the game and recording again! I am so lucky to be working with the great people at Delta Groove! I hope my comeback story can inspire those of you dealing with illnesses and losses and the incredible challenges of every day life.
We have had my long time pal, guitarist Kid Ramos come in and play on a couple of songs and also the great Stephen Hodges who plays drums and percussion with Mavis Staples and Tom Waits, on a couple of tunes. Most of the playing though, is done by my own wonderful rhythm section, Paul Loranger on bass and Evan Caleb on drums. We will also have guests Dave Gonzales from the Paladins and Hacienda Bros fame in next week as well as the great pianist Sue Palmer, sax man Jonny Viau and Stevie Utstein20 on B3. This is my ninth cd and my first one for Delta Groove. Its also my first self produced cd and of course the first one, featuring the awesome talents of Laura Chavez. I just wanted to let you all know why I am so behind on answering emails and let you know that I will be back online more very soon! Thanks so much for your support and patience.
Look for a mid June release of this new cd! I know you will love it as much as we are loving making it!
xoxo from Hollywood,
Howdy everybody and HAPPY 2009!!!
I hope everyone is recovering from the holiday madness. I want to apologize to any of you who came to my last show at the Belly Up Tavern in December. I got that horrible flu and was lying in bed with a high fever when the band took the stage in my place. I heard that many of you stayed to show your support of the band in spite of my absence. This just proves one more time why I have the classiest friends and fans, in the world. Thank you sooo much for coming in the first place and for staying to support my pals who filled in for me - A special thanks to Toni Price and Thomas Yearsley for sitting in and singing a few.
The place to be this weekend, is the Belly Up Tavern www.bellyup.com tomorrow night (January 9th) from 5:30 to 8 pm. My future daughter in law, UK singer Dani Wilde will be there with me and I cant wait to see your faces when she sings. She is just a tremendous talent – great singer and songwriter and only 22 years old! She is engaged to my eldest son and drummer, Evan. Don’t miss this amazing show. Dani is only here for one month from her home in Brighton and will also be appearing solo at Anthology with Robben Ford on January 18th.
My ebay auctions will be up on Ebay starting January 13th. You can search for me by seller / user name KaneCandye. My email address for ebay is Kanecandye@yahoo.com I am selling tons of amazing gowns and stage clothes, including hard to find vintage dresses in large sizes. Buy the dress I wore on Roseanne, Donny and Marie and Queen Latifah among other fabulous items.
Also, PLEASE Don’t miss my stage play/workshop, The Toughest Girl Alive – at the Diversionary Theater on January 29, 30, 31 and Feb 1st!!!! This play has been adapted to the stage by acclaimed San Diego Ballet Director/choreographer, Javier Velasco and features actors Amy Bidel and Daren Scott in addition to Candye Kane, Sue Palmer and the Candye Kane band featuring Laura Chavez. I will send another email blast letting you know how to get tickets and look for the postcards at the Belly Up show tomorrow.
I am so grateful to be alive and have another year ahead of me to make a joyful noise with all of you. It was a crazy year full of heartaches and losses. I was reminded again the other day how precious and fleeting life is when a woman ran a red light while on her cell phone and smashed into me on Lomas Santa Fe drive, two miles from the Belly Up. I had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance! I am okay but have a few aches and pains in my neck and back. The crash just reminded me of how fragile life is and how at any minute, we could be snuffed out by another careless human being or any odd twist of fate. Every moment we can come together and enjoy th e company of another human being, or enjoy a sunset, a walk on the beach or beautiful, inspiring music is a good day to be alive. Thanks for giving me a chance to share my joy with you!
Big Love Always,
I hope you're enjoying November and getting ready for a toasty, cozy holiday season.
I am very sad to announce that two of my shows have been cancelled. The Long Beach show on November 14th for my birthday was cancelled because the booking agent, my long time friend Vince Jordan is no longer affiliated with The Cellar. I was so sad to hear about this because I really wanted to celebrate my life and cancer ass kicking with you all. I was actually born on November 13th so if you'd like to drink a toast to me on the 13th, please do. I will feel your love and cheer long distance.
Also, my show in Tacoma at Jazzbones on Nov. 29 has been cancelled and we have been rescheduled in Coos Bay, Oregon at the Green Spot. While I love my friends in Coos Bay, I was excited to come back to Jazzbones where they had a wonderful benefit for me coordinated by my lovely friend, Barbara Hammerman. I wanted to rock out with my Tacomian homies and now I have to beg you guys to please come and see me in Seattle at the Triple Door Theater on the 25th. I will have my friend, Sue Palmer with me on the piano and we will do a song or two to honor our beautiful musician friend, the late Janell Rock. (You can see and hear Janell on my top friends list at myspace.com/candyekaneband Janell passed away recently after a long, valiant and courageous fight with cancer. She was amazing and a real inspiration to us all.
Anyway, I am feeling great and still very blessed for each day I have on this planet. I am excited about our new President and I feel really hopeful that we have moved past some real prejudices in our country to finally have elected an African American to the highest office in our government. Now, if we can just get a woman elected!!!!
Of course the victory is also bittersweet when some of our citizens are still suffering open bigotry. The No on Prop 8 campaign was so misleading and confusing. The "Yes on 8 posters" gave the impression that a YES vote was a vote of inclusion. The bright yellow poster showed happy human figures dancing implying that a YES vote was a vote to include all human beings the right to marriage. I was so saddened by the results of Prop 8. I know most people didn't understand the proposition or read the voters guide carefully. I had so many friends telling me that they were confused. Why would someone's desire to marry and be in a committed life long relationship with a partner of any gender, be a threat to anyone else? I am sure the confusion over the ad campaigns resulted in this vote. Our constitution has never been amended to EXCLUDE a group of people, as this proposition will do and its abominable. Please click below on this petition to repeal and re-open Proposition 8.
It is the morally right thing - to afford equal marriage rights to all of our citizens. When we stop imposing our will and fear based prejudice on our brother and sister human beings, we will really have evolved and transcended some of our collective American bigotry. I am so honored to still be alive to witness the spiritual evolution of our country. Little by little, we are growing up. Now lets repeal prop 8 so love can be legal for all people because all love truly is DIVINE.
Were into the last week on our celebration tour and I am feeling the fatigue. It became a real celebration way back in Lynchburg, VA when I found out that my MRI showed me to be cancer free with no sign of recurrence so far!!! Now, three long weeks later, with only one show cancellation (Im truly sorry Rockland Maine!) we are on our way down to Florida to wind things up for the last few shows on this long East Coast run.
Its been a wonderful tour and has been great fun seeing so many old friends and fans again. It really feels good to know how many people are wishing me well and its sweet when they come out to the shows and tell me so. I am so grateful for the chance to get to sing each night and its inspiring to meet so many cancer survivors who share their stories. Everyone has been very supportive and understanding when I have had to do some or most of the show seated.
I am finding out that its diffic ult for me to take really long drives (over 200 miles) and still do two shows in the same night. Thankfully, the club owners have been kind hearted and accommodated me more than once by allowing me to do just one long hour and forty five minute show. Its much easier for me to do one long show. When I have to get my energy up for more than one show, its almost impossible, especially after a long drive. I am a bit worried about Key West where I have to do several sets. I will try my best but I am not gonna kill myself over it. I just hope I can get thru them all; especially Tuesday when we have to play one early happy hour show and two late shows. I will do my best and hope people understand.
Before cancer, I never even thought about not doing all my shows. I always preferred doing one long one because its too fun to stop once I get going, but I would do whatever the promoter wanted. Now, I worry that the club owners will get mad at me if I don’t do what they want. Its weird to be in the position where I have to think about preserving my energy but that’s what I have to do. I have to think about whether or not my body can take it. It’s a strange position to be in.
I am getting stronger though and despite weird digestion issues, I feel okay most of the time. Its hard to find time to exercise though and I think I would do better if I could ride a bike regularly and/or get some time to work out. That’s hard to do when I am up so late and trying to get enough sleep. Its impossible to sleep in the RV. Way too bumpy!
The band is sounding incredibly tight. Laura Chavez wins new fans everywhere we go. Its so cool to see the adoring and amazed looks she gets after her scorching solos. This girl has a brilliant career ahead of her. My bassist Paul Loranger is sounding great and is such an angel, always there lending a hand to his bandmates. My eldest son Evan is swingin every night, and getting better all the time on the drums. It’s a real comfort to have him here to watch my back as the miles go by.
Although its really hard to pick jus t one or two stand out shows in a month, there are a few that stick in my head the most:
I sang a song in Hoboken at Maxwells when I was in the New York area at a benefit for Mary Lou, the wife of songwriter Peter Karp. Mary Lou has Ovarian cancer and is very ill. She is a tough broad too and is fighting for her life. I sat in with my good friends, Popa Chubby and his awesome wife, Galea, and it felt really good to lend my voice to another person suffering from cancer this soon after my own struggle. I have never met Mary Lou and barely met her husband Peter but they sure seem like wonderful people. I also met singer Gina Fox that night who is Mary Lous best friend and met the great guitarist, Petey Joe who played my Hartford cancer benefit. That was a real special night.
Another special night was had in Greensboro, NC at Zion Bar and Grille where guitarist Dave Gross sat in. Dave is the boyfriend of Gina Sicilia and is a great player. Matt Hill also came to the show. He and Bob Margolin played the=2 0benefit that Gina organized for me at Scotland Yard. Casey from the Greensboro Blues society arranged that last minute Greensboro show and I am most grateful to Bob Margolin for hooking me up with Casey. Special thanks to Tina Terry, my agent at Piedmont for her hard work on this entire tour, and especially her kindness surrounding the Greensboro show, in her hometown.
Tonite was our show at the Capital Oyster Bar in Montgomery, Alabama. It was so much fun. They are real blues lovers at the Oyster bar. Lewis the Owner always treats me like an old friend. Little Willies in Tuscaloosa was great too and it was a real pleasure to meet Womens Studies professor and writer, Bebe Barefoot and her wonderful husband Bill. We also had a couple of great days off in Atlanta and a rockin show at the Vortex Midtown, courtesy of my longtime friends and Vortex owners, Michael and Kristen Benoit. Atlanta has long been my favorite city in the South. Michael and Kristen just opened a new Mexican restaurant in Atlanta called the Bone Garden. It is a beautiful restaurant with a Dia de los Muertos (day of the dead) theme. If you are in Atlanta, you must try this authentic and delicious food and atmosphere.
I will be home October 13 just for seven days and then I fly to Scandinavia for my last shows with the Blues Caravan. I know people think I am working too hard but it makes me feel alive when I play music. The love and energy I get from a crowd is healing and I want my fans and the promoters to know that I am still here and I am still ready to rock. I have plans to go into the studio in January and record a new cd. My play will also open in San Diego at the Diversionary Theater. We have a Facebook page for the play: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=69987520183&ref=ts
No matter what happens, I will go out singing and swingin and you can take that to the bank.
Big Love from Alabama,
That dreaded summer of 1974 was the summer of transformation. My mom called me into the house from my sweltering game of kick the can with the neighborhood homeboys. Until that moment, you could find me running blissfully up and down my northeast Los Angeles cul de sac in cut off shorts, no shirt and vans slip ons. Suddenly my mom was informing me that I had to wear a shirt from now on. My breasts were growing and it was "inappropriate" for a young lady to run around shirtless. I spent the rest of the summer seated in front of the electric fan, stubbornly refusing to give into my moms' merciless demands, my raging hormones and my blossoming mammaries.
By ninth grade, the rest of my body was starting to catch up with my now D cup bustline. I became an expert at hiding my size 12 curves under my dads baggy button down collar shirts and levis. I would never know the joys of the "5 -7- 9" shop. I carried my schoolbooks close to my chest and kept my eyes lowered, praying to G-d that none of my classmates would call me "fatso" or "chubby cheeks." I really wasn't fat, but my large, round breasts were the first thing that people noticed when we met. They were scary and intriguing for the boys at school, except for the one bully who pinned me against the lockers so he could cop a feel at their firmness.
With my first year of high school came my initiation into size discrimination. Even though I was often the best singer in the drama class, I couldn’t get the part of the ingénue or the princess in our school productions. My size dictated that I play the matronly teacher, or the matronly mother or the matronly nanny complete with grey wig. I was a matron and yet, I was still a virgin.
Senior year was the first time I actually started to enjoy my voluptuous body. A trip to Vegas proved to be quite advantageous when a peek at my cleavage and ample behind distracted the security guard from asking for my ID. I could play on the slot machines to my hearts content and hadn’t even had my 18th birthday yet.
Pregnancy and childbirth inflated my generous body further. My breasts swelled to an F cup. I was now a size 16. I couldn’t get jeans in the mall boutiques to fit me, anymore. I started shopping at Lane Bryant and discovered the plus size sections of the bigger department stores. Simultaneously, I was modeling for big cash in magazines that celebrated big women. Magazines with names like Hefty Mamas, Two tons of Fun, Curvy Gals and Juggs. I was a large sized sex symbol. I was working in a stigmatic business but at least I wasn't invisible. I was acknowledged. I was beautiful and sexy. I started receiving marriage proposals and bonafide fan mail. I started embracing my curvaceous bounty and realized that there was a whole cross-section of people who enjoyed their partners with generous proportions. With money and out of state travel, came confidence and big dreams. I used the money from the skin trade to subsidize my musical career. I began hiring musicians to play with me and writing and recording songs and demos. I was a cover girl on Voluptuous magazine – why not take the next step and become the singing star I had always wanted to be?
Alas, lest I become overly comfortable in my own skin, the music business provided a rude awakening and reality check. I really wasn't okay being a fat girl, or at least that's what the record executives wanted me to believe. I was too fat to be a country star. I needed to lose weight and fix everything about myself that was unique, unusual and hence, broken. I was blatantly told by several powerful show biz veterans that I would never "make it" if I didn’t look the part. Didn't I realize there were no fat women in country and western music? I could lose weight and play the game, or I could go back to my barrio with my muy grande nalgas and be a welfare mom. I went back to East L.A. from Nashville, but I didn't go quietly and I didn't stay a welfare mom for long.
I have always been a fat activist even before I knew there was a label for it. I was a fat champion out of necessity. I didn’t feel undesirable like many large sized people do. I had a ready fan base to tell me I was sexy and wanted. But I still had the same confrontations with prejudice and stereotypes in my daily anonymous life, as every other outsider. Rude waiters asking me if I really needed dessert or if I knew how many calories were in the pastrami plate - Dirty looks from old women in the supermarket when I lingered too long in the ice cream aisle- Laughter and snickers from store clerks in Victoria Secret - Teenage boys screaming from speeding cars when I jogged past: "It's not gonna help, fatty!" - Men in the singles scene who wanted to date me from my ad, but took off running when they saw how large I was in person- Well-meaning friends and relatives who told me I would be so much healthier if I just lost a few pounds - Countless people telling me that I had such a pretty face, because they couldn't bear to comment on the rest of me – People telling me how great I looked and asking how much weight I had lost, because I couldn't possibly look good if I hadn’t been dieting.
So, I began to own my fatness. I started writing and singing songs about it. "200 pounds of fun", "You need a great big woman to show you how to love", "Work what you got if it’s a little or a lot", "Fit, Fat and Fine." I wore bikinis and low cut dresses. I wore short skirts and skimpy gowns. I discovered drag queen stores where the sizes were bigger, the fabrics stretchy-er and the sequins shinier. I sought out other large sized and fringe communities and my music attracted them to me. I was featured in a book called "Real Women Don't Diet" and appeared on talk shows like Roseanne, Maury Povich and Montel Williams, extolling the virtues of big women. I got new kinds of fan letters from new kinds of fans; Women who identified with my struggle as a fat girl in a skinny world.
I had another baby, gained more weight and grew to 270 pounds and a size 24. I was rejected from insurance companies because my weight was considered a pre-existing condition. I had low cholesterol and low blood pressure but was considered high risk by the medical establishment. According to them, I was morbidly obese. I was indignant. Did the insurance companies ask skinny girls how much they weighed? Were they discriminated against for being too thin? I was fat but I was still active – riding a bike, walking on the beach, dancing onstage every night and eating and drinking whatever I wanted. I was fat but I was still very sexy. There was more of me to love and more of me to celebrate. Yes, I was fat and I was proud. I rubbed my belly and spoke to it, "You’re soft and warm and cuddly. You keep me warm on a cold winters night. You're good to grab onto during sex." I loved my big body and I spread the word that fat was where its at. That we are all beautiful no matter what size we are. That fat is okay too.
And then one day, cancer knocked on my door.
Since being diagnosed with cancer and having the Whipple procedure done on April 17 in a nine hour surgery, I have lost 75 pounds. They removed part of my stomach, small intestine, bile duct, pancreas and my entire gall bladder. I am under 200 pounds for the first time in almost twenty years. I have gone from a size 24 to a size 16. I am thinner than some of my thin friends. I can buy the "one size fits all" fishnets and they actually fit! One of my friends said recently, "Now that you’re losing all this weight, do you think your fat fans will desert you?"
I was speechless after that question. I didn't really think it was a possibility. Why would my fat fans desert me just because I had cancer? Why would my fat fans desert me when I was still a fat girl inside? I didn't ask for cancer. I didn't ask to be thinner this way and I certainly wouldn’t wish the cancer diet on anyone else. In my head, I still identify as a fat girl. I still shop in plus size shops and websites. I still opt for the table instead of the booth at the restaurant. I am still too fat for mall boutiques and I still shop in the specialty stores, only now I am a XL instead of a 3X.
My friends question though, really worried me. Especially after a blog appeared on a website called "The Rotund" challenging my songwriting integrity. The writer, Dr. Sheila accused me of lying about my weight in my song, 200 lbs of fun. Suddenly I was being accused of dishonesty when I had always prided myself on my fidelity. Would my big girl fans desert me because I no longer looked like them?
It's a question with no real answers. I haven't changed who I am or my philosophy that all of us are worthy and equal. I haven't changed my belief that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, ages and sexual orientations. I still feel like an outsider and I will always identify with the disenfranchised because I am still, one of you. No matter how thin I may become or how easy shopping may become, I still feel like a fat girl, now trapped in a slimmer body. I haven't noticed that much difference since my surgery. I don't move any quicker than I did 75 pounds ago. I do think more about what goes into my mouth, because my digestive system is fragile and I have to pay attention to what I eat. I do exercise daily because I want to be as healthy as possible and I don’t want the cancer to return. I do avoid sugar because cancer feeds on sugar and I don't need it in my system. But in every other way, I am still the same fat girl I always was. Now, I guess I am truly an outsider because I am too fat for the Victoria Secret store, and too thin for the NAAFA convention. Does this mean that my large sized fans are going to dump me? I would like to hear from you and hear your opinions.
When a fat person loses weight because she/he has had a health crisis, is she still a member of the club? Or do we become some sort of invisible person – invisible to the large sized community we love and embrace, just as we are invisible to the culture, because we are fat? Am I part of the problem now, instead of part of the solution? Am I a former outsider looking in to my outsider community? How does weight loss affect how the fat acceptance community views us? Is all weight loss bad? Or just crash dieting and gastric bypass weight loss? Is all weight loss created equal? I want to think that my music is more important than my size. I want to think that large sized women and men will persist in buying my music and sharing it with others. I will continue to sing my size celebration songs because I love them and I know there are people who need to hear their message of inclusivity, no matter what size they are. I will continue to perform the songs because I still identify as an outsider in more ways than just the numbers on my scale.
If you have stuck with me thru the thick, then I need you to stick with me thru the thin, even if it happens to be a bit thinner than you. Who among you has the courage to look past my appearance and embrace who I am? Isn’t that what all of us really want from each other? It's not 1974 anymore and I don’t have the option to sit inside all summer in front of the electric fan rather than wear a shirt to cover my changing body. My body is changing on its own, from the trauma of cancer and the lifestyle changes that cancer has wrought. I love and cherish my body because it is alive and has so far, triumphed over a complicated surgery and a life threatening illness. I love and cherish my body because fat or thin, sick or healthy, it's the only body I have. It's the summer of 2008 and once again, it's a summer of transformation. Hopefully it is also a summer that will transform not only my dress size, but also transform all the narrow minds who would judge me for my weight – be it 270 or 170. Think about it.
I am finally back home after six weeks on the road in Europe. The first four were with my cherished project, United by Music in the Netherlands, and the next two weeks were with the RUF records Blues Caravan show featuring Virginia guitarist Deborah Coleman, my new soon-to-be daughter in law, amazing UK singer, Dani Wilde and myself.
Before I tell you about my trip and the highlights and lowlights, I want to tell you about two very special benefits in my honor:
The first is August 17th in Tacoma, Washington at Jazzbones. My beautiful friends Amanda Gresham and Barbara Hammerman have organized a benefit to help my band with the lost wages and back bills that we all incurred while I was undergoing cancer surgery on April 18th. Some amazing musicians are performing at the benefit including guitar heroine Alice Stuart and Becki Sue and her Rocking Daddies. I sang a song with Becki Sue, on her last cd, which featured my close friend Les White on the bass. Also joining this incredible line up is Son Jack jr, Lady A and the baby blues funk band, and the Red Hot Blues sisters. If you are a fan or a friend of mine up on the Northwest area, please go and support this generous group of musicians who are donating their time. gigginthenarrows.com
The second benefit is actually a three day event at Safari Sams in Hollywood on Labor day weekend, Aug 30, 31 and Sept. 1st. This is the first annual dog and pony show and was the brainchild of my good friend Dave Alvin. Dave has organized an incredible group of musicians and started a fund to help me and other people in the music community who are uninsured or under-insured. Several mutual friends of ours, including Dave's best friend, Chris Gaffney who recently died of liver cancer, and our friend Drac Conley, have been devastated by unexpected life threatening illnesses and no insurance. Our whole country suffers from inadequate healthcare, but musicians and artists who often live hand to mouth, with no pensions or day job insurance, are especially afflicted. Dave has assembled an all star line up that includes Big Sandy, The Blasters, The Knitters, Peter Case, Dave Gonzales and the Hacienda Brothers, Levi Dexter and many, many more awesome musicians. I like daves concept because it isn't just me who is in a bind since I was diagnosed with cancer. So many of us are vulnerable these days, and especially musicians who move us with their music but often live on the fringes of society.
Again, I feel so truly blessed to be surrounded by so much love and so many beautiful, kind hearted people who want to help. My friend Lady Monster recently had an awesome benefit for me in San Francisco at the El Rio. Annie Sprinkle did a healing ritual for me onstage, on her birthday and many burlesque dancers performed routines to my songs. Jodie Woodward in Boulder Colorado did a benefit at Oskars in Lyon, Co. with all women on the bill. I just feel so honored and so humbled by all this generosity and love.
It was a long tour but I was very lucky because I was able to stay in the apartment of my dear friend, manager and long time companion Adam. Being able to stay in one place during the tour meant so much. I was able to have a juicer and make fresh juice almost daily. I was able to keep my stuff in one place without having to move hotels daily during the tour. I keep a bike there and was able to ride it almost daily to the Natuur Winkel (health food store) to get organic groceries. Without that luxury, I don't think I would have been able to do the tour at all. I was still so fragile after my surgery on April 18. Despite my health challenges, it was my goal to do the united by music tour. These students depend on me and they gain so much from performing music with a big band of professional musicians. I had to cancel a few of my appearances but my friend dani filled in for me on those nights.
It was the perfect tour to transition back to work, because I had so many people helping me with the shows. I didn't have to sing all night because my singing duties were divided amongst my students and my stellar group of musicians. I did sing my first 90 minute set since my surgery at the Big Rivers Festival in Dordrecht, Holland. I have to cheat a bit and use my legs to support my body when I really belt it out. All my muscles have been severed on my abdomen so its hard to use my diaphragm to project my voice. I am really having to think about technique and vocal support but I am getting stronger and better all the time.
I am just so grateful to be alive that any time I open my mouth to sing, I am blown away. I have been given a second chance on life and I don't want to waste it now that I know how fragile it is.
The Blues Caravan shows were a lot of fun. We played in Bejar, Spain in the oldest bull-ring in Spain. It was a terrific line up with John Lee Hooker, Jr. and Johnny Mars and Michael Roach. I was excited to see my friend Poppa Chubby and we took a bunch of pictures. Hopefully, I will get a few copies of them. We didn’t go on until 2 am, and most everyone was drunk by then (except me!), but we had a good time nonetheless.
Our last show was in beautiful Gouvy, Belgium where I have been before. It was great seeing my friends in Gouvy and I was so proud and happy to be back there. I met Benoit Blue Blue Boy there, who played at my benefit in Paris, France that Sophie Kay organized. It was so sweet to meet yet another kind soul who had volunteered to help a stranger. We had Joanna Shaw sit in with us and it was a beautiful last show for the Blues Caravan. It's so fun to have that much female energy on stage. We will be playing only a couple of shows in the USA in September, so if youre in or traveling to Virginia, don’t miss this magnificent show.
There is a lot of suffering and hardship going on around our planet and it used to really scare me. But now I know that all of us have tremendous courage and huge capacities for love and kindness inside each of us. I have had to tap into my courage recently to stay strong and overcome my cancer challenge. The love all around me made it easier to stand up and fight. If you are faced with an illness or an obstacle that seems too great to bear, try digging deep inside yourself for the strength you have, often laying dormant. There is a sleeping giant inside you, too. That sleeping giant is the human spirit and the will to live. I have another cancer test in September, but no matter what the outcome, I know I can face whatever lies ahead. I have incredible strength inside me. And your love and compassion has made that all the more evident. I am almost grateful to cancer for awakening my sleeping giant and reminding me of my own power and fortitude. I am a super hero and I am gonna keep on fighting. Thanks for being by my side.
PS: I played in Los Alamos, New Mexico last night at the county fair. My first USA show since the surgery. We did two sets. I had to do most of it sitting down. The exhaustion of traveling all day (with airline cancellations and lots of extra waiting around) plus the high altitude did a number on me. I really felt breathless the whole time. But I sang well and the band played great. It was really fun in spite of having to sing seated. I am glad though, that I don’t have to jump in a van and drive to Omaha today, as much as I love and miss my lovely Midwestern fans and friends. I think I made the right choice in just flying out to these festivals and canceling some of the smaller venues for now. I am grateful for the kind understanding of guys like Jeff Wagner at Blues on Grand in Des Moines who took the time to write me an email and tell me he forgave me for canceling. I know I will be strong enough soon to resume my normal touring routine. Everyone in my life says they can't believe how much I am working already, but singing gives me immense joy and makes my life feel meaningful. Singing makes my life feel normal. I know I wont have to do my sho w sitting down for much longer! Next weekend, we play in Wausau Wisconsin for the Big Bull Falls Festival. I am excited because my new daughter in law to be, UK Singer Dani Wilde will join me onstage for some songs. If you are in Wausau, you are in for a big treat! Hopefully I will be able to stand the entire show!
The United by Music tour is over and we had an amazing, sparkling-ly beautiful hot day here in Amsterdam for my second day off. It was incredible and felt like summer was finally here, as opposed to last week when it was pouring so hard and the wind was raging. I am really enjoying being off of the tour and having some real, consecutive days off, even though the tour was full of lovely and poignant moments.
Our last show at the Big Rivers Festival in Dordrecht was on a blustery, cloudy day with rain intermittently. There was a sea of umbrellas in the crowd when the United by Music show took the stage at 2:30. By the time I went on, for my own set, at 6:30, the clouds had cleared and the sun came out. I have witnessed the umbrella phenomenon once before, at the Peer Festival in Belgium a few years ago, when the stage was drenched by buckets of rain, and one by one, umbrellas popped up until it was like one big tent. I really think Europeans value music so much more than we Americans do. I have never seen Americans stand in the pouring rain with umbrellas to see a band. Maybe in Seattle? Anyway, it is incredible to be reminded how much audiences here love music and it was a lovely ending for all of our special Dutch singers who worked so hard for this musical journey.
I started crying onstage when I saw all of my United by Music students crying in front of the stage during my set (and no, they weren't crying because I was singing off key!) I hate when I cry onstage but it was emotional to leave my friends after a full month on the road with them. Each of them grew in confidence and courage and it was inspiring to witness. They battled episodes of self-doubt, stage fright and personal and emotional turmoil – a father in the hospital, a fight with a lover, a bout of jealousy – and they stayed professional, honoring our show biz credo that the show must go on. I was very proud of them and I hope they were all proud of themselves. It was rough saying goodbye to the band too. I was so lucky to have an amazing group of musicians this year who were warm and wonderful to our artists and did their best work. Johnny Fereirra, Billy Watson, Sue Palmer, Robbie Smith, Laura Chavez, Dani Wilde, Harm Van Sleen, Paul Loranger, and my sons Tommy Yearsley and Evan Caleb, thanks so much for your big hearts and professionalism. As difficult as it was saying goodbye, luckily some of us will reunite for the World Congress for People with Disabilities in Capetown, South Africa in late August. In addition to the World Congress, I just booked a show in a blues club in South Africa called the Die Boer Theater, while we are there. Who knows when we will have the chance to visit South Africa again? I am really excited for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
I will also never forget this tour because my eldest son and drummer Evan and UK singer Dani Wilde announced their engagement! I am so happy for them both. They are just nauseatingly cute together and clearly in love. Dani and I met when we toured together for RUF records Blues Caravan and Evan came over to Paris to join us. Love has been in the air ever since. We had a beautiful party on a boat in the canals of Amsterdam and Dani's parents Chris and Jan, and her talented brother Will and his girl Bernice came over from Brighton, and joined us for our festive family cruise. It was a beautiful evening that night in Amsterdam – again no rain! I am so blessed to have a new future daughter in law like Dani. She is a tremendous singer and songwriter. Check her out on my myspace page. She wails like Janis Joplin with a voice out of a tiny, Brenda Lee sized body AND she is warm and kind and totally lovable. GO EVAN AND DANI!!!
Since the UBM tour ended, Laura and I are staying on here in Amsterdam. We will join the Blues Caravan with guitarist Deborah Coleman and Dani Wilde, tomorrow in Stuttgart. We have shows in Madrid, Spain; Appenzell, Switzerland and Gouvy, Belgium before we fly home on August 5. It has been a great luxury to recuperate here in Amsterdam with the United by Music tour. The Big Rivers Fest was the first time I sang a whole hour set since the cancer surgery on April 17th. All the other nights, my special artists and the band helped me cover the shows. At Big Rivers, I was on my own vocally and it was tough. I really had to work at belting it out. Since all my abdominal muscles have been severed, it is a bit like learning how to use my diaphragm all over again. I managed to sing the whole show and was pretty proud of myself. What a great way to stage a comeback!
Laura and I have been riding bikes around Amsterdam and enjoying the sights and the weather. We sit in cafes and coffee shops on canals and people watch. I swear, we saw Elvis yesterday. He had the same huge, jet-black sideburns he had in the 70s. He was a bit fatter than in the 70s, and was holding the hand of a large sized blonde. He had on gold sunglasses. I tried to get a picture but he jumped into a taxi. We also saw a man having a very animated argument with himself. He hit himself on the chest and yelled at an invisible entity as he passed: "Why is it always my fault?" We also saw a pimp riding a tricked out low rider bicycle while carrying a bottle of Johnny Walker Red and of course, there are the bevy of beauties in the red light district showing us their best lingerie and all of their tattoos for free! Amsterdam is an amazing place to get better.
And finally, last night in San Francisco, my friend Stephanie "Lady Monster" organized an all-star benefit for me at the El Rio. My heroine, Annie Sprinkle did a healing ritual for me on her birthday! How powerful must that mojo be?? Many performers, including my longtime friend, writer Carol Queen danced burlesque routines to my music and donated prizes for raffles and baked goods to sell. I am so honored to have such a beautiful community all around me – Musicians, Artists, Writers, Dancers and Sex workers – to come together and show their love for me. Its really incredible how much love is out there. I just want to be worthy of it all. I keep trying.
One more time, and I cant say it enough; thank YOU to all who organized benefits, all who performed at the benefits and all who bought a ticket. It is such a beautiful thing to know that so many people care around the world. I will have that cancer test in September and know for sure then whether the surgery got rid of it all, but no matter what the results, I will never forget the huge hearts and generosity of so many good people all over the world. People I didn't even know who sent Paypal contributions and people who wrote checks big and small. Thank you thank you thank you. I am so blessed in so many ways. I must be doing something right!
Candye in Amsterdam
Our tour is going great here in the Netherlands. (www.unitedbymusic.nl for photos) Sue Palmer left us Sunday and my son Tommy is here now to take her place on piano (tough shoes to fill!) and play some trombone for us, for the remaining two weeks. Yesterday we played in a big barn in Rotterdam at a petting zoo. It was an incredible place to have a concert amidst the hay and the goats. There was actually a peacock in the haystack with us and she just sat there the whole time during our rowdy and raucous set. She seemed a bit upset about my big feathery hat and she kept fluffing up her feathers, trying to look bigger. It was cute.
The United by Music artists are getting better and more confident each performance and that is really exciting to witness. I couldnt have done this tour without the help of my friend, UK blues artist Dani Wilde. I have had to cancel a few of my performances because of my health and Dani has been right there to emcee for me and perform her own amazing songs. The entire band is just awesome and everybody is doing their very best for our kids. Robbie Smith arranged all of the horns for me. Johnny Ferreira goes above and beyond the call of duty daily, playing his sax to the kids on stage and playing with them offstage too. He has such a big and friendly personality. The singers all love him. Billy Watson is another great friend and stage artist willing to do whatever it takes it get the job done. He sings a duet with J.A. Grace of "Hit the Road Jack" and sometimes he even lays right down on the ground during the song. His wild antics crack us all up. Harm Van Sleen has really helped the whole time, rehearsing with the UBM artists and he speaks dutch so its great having him there to communicate if things get confusing. The rhythm section features Paul Loranger and my son Evan on drums. Paul is just an angel and he has been so good to me. I love him and of course, Evan is right there for me all the time, keeping the beat and making me laugh. And finally, my girl Laura Chavez is just so incredible. The soul and heart that comes from her guitar playing is just awesome. I am so lucky to play with her and with all these great people. Our tour manager Nanda leaves tomorrow to go back to Singapore. We will really miss her. She is just a beautiful person inside and out. I am so glad we will see her again in Capetown.
On August 25, we will go to Capetown, South Africa for the World Congress for People with disabilities. I don’t know how on earth my body will endure a 15 hour flight but this is a realization of several years of hard work. It has been a dream of mine and Joris Wijngaarden to bring the United by Music project all over the world. It will be a chance for us to explain to caregivers and educators why we specifically use blues music to inspire special needs people to overcome adversity. Because the blues was partly born from the oppression of African Americans, I feel it is uniquely suited to inspire people who are challenged by physical and intellectual disabilities in their every day lives. Some of our artists have already written their own blues compositions. Mirielle wrote a song called “Im not that special. I am just like you.” When she performs that song, she demonstrates the honesty and heart that the blues is all about. It is my sincere hope that the United by Music project can someday be as big as the Special Olympics. By using blues as a metaphor, we can inspire others to create and enjoy music to pull them through their daily challenges. I will be doing a slide show and verbal presentation. The slide show will have photos of blues artists such as Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Minnie alongside plantation pictures and photos of our special needs artists. If any of you can give me suggestions on where I can find archives for my slide show, please contact me at email@example.com
I am feeling okay but sometimes food does a number on me. Food I used to eat without event has suddenly become indigestable. I got really sick the other night after eating some pad thai. The next day, I took a chance and I ate a salad with some bleu cheese. I thought I would get really sick since I have been virtually dairy free except for acidophulus and yogurt and yet, I felt fine after the cheesy salad. Then I ate a little tiny bit of ice cream and was up all night crying with pain. Its really weird and unpredictable. Everyday is a new gastronomical experiment. I also get really tired very quickly. On this show, I only have to emcee and do a couple of songs nightly. It wears me out! I do give a lot of energy to the singers and musicians in the show and lots of hugs, kisses and a shoulder to cry on sometimes. But still, it has been draining at times, and I have had to take a few nights off. Its really great to have wonderful musicians to rely on to carry me thru. I am also grateful for the kind understanding of the united by music crew and Joris Wijngaarden. They have been so kind when I have had to cancel and their gracious understanding really makes it easier. And of course, it really helps to have my friend and caregiver Heather here with me. She gives me massages once a week and makes fresh juices for me when she is staying with me. I should have probably stayed at home to convalesce longer but Joris and the UBM volunteers have made the tour so easy for me, I had to come and do my best. I didn’t think my special needs artists would understand if I didn’t make it.
I took the liberty of canceling a few of my Midwest shows. I just had such a full schedule that I couldnt imagine having to help drive for four or five hours a day and then performing several shows a night. I still havent purchased a small RV because they are so expensive and my budget is limited; (and I simply haven’t had the time!) So I am really sorry to those of you who were looking forward to seeing me in Omaha, Lincoln, Ann Arbor, Navarre, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Columbus and New York City. We will still be flying out to the festivals in Los Alamos, Wausau, Wis and Marshfield, Mass and will resume normal touring schedules in September. I really hated to cancel anything and let people down. I know how much my agents at piedmont talent and the wonderful promoters and club owners depend on me so I hope people will forgive and realize that I am still healing and figuring myself out. With the Capetown trip looming, I just didn’t feel physically ready to do all of my dates and I had to make a difficult decision. I really hope my fans and blues friends can forgive me and understand that the United by Music Capetown trip can do so much more good for the blues in the long run.
I will have another round of cancer tests on September 6 to find out if all the cancer was removed in the surgery. 14 out of 20 lymph nodes were cancerous so there is a slight chance that some lymph nodes were missed. I am really hoping that my cancer is completely gone, that my strict diet is working and that I wont have to endure more surgery and treatments. In the meantime, I am trying to get as much work done as possible and enjoy the time I have here on earth NOW. I know I live a charmed life and I am so blessed to do this amazing work with these wonderful people.
I met an M.D. the other day and she was amazed at how good I look and how well I am doing since having the Whipple surgery less than three months ago (April 18th!). Comments like hers give me courage especially since I am faced with more fragility than usual. I am not used to feeling feeble and it has been hard to accept. But I am just so grateful to be alive and to be back here in Europe with both of my sons. And even though I look pretty good and feel good most of the time, I am still trying to take things one day at a time. The understanding and kind hearts of those around me really means so much.
WOW! I can't believe I will go under the knife in just eight days. I am nervous but I continue to say my positive affirmations and visualize myself in my healthy, cancer free body when this is over. I am feeling great and stronger than ever. I have discovered some amazing new vegan foods to eat like raw vegan ice cream from coconut milk, vegannaise, Kamut yeast free bread and so many other delicious vegan foods that I don’t miss meat, sugar or dairy at all! I continue to juice daily, lose weight and ride my bike about four miles daily. I am a regular at my local health food store, Cream of the Crop, and everyone there is wishing me well when I go in for my wheatgrass shots each day. I am in great shape right now, my skin is soft, my eyes are clear and bright and I know I will survive this surgery and recuperate quickly.
It was an amazing week when many of my musician friends, Sue Palmer, Paul Loranger, Sharon Shufelt, Jonny Viau, April West, Pete Harris, Melissa Hague and Steve Wilcox recorded with me at PH studios in Escondido. We recorded some standards I have always wanted to record; At Last, I got it bad and that ain't good, He’s Funny that Way, and Joe Liggins I gotta right to cry (which was one of the songs I used to strip to as a young dancer in the early 80’s). We will go back in on April 16th to record a few more tunes before I enter the hospital. I felt like it was important to do this, because if something did go wrong in surgery, (which it won't!!!) at least I have recorded some of my all time favorite songs. I know everything will be fine but it felt so special and heartwarming to have my musician friends rally around me and donate their talents and studio time for free. I am one lucky girl.
I continue to be humbled and awed by so many beautiful gestures of friendship and love from you. I have received so many cards (many with checks!) letters, emails and phone calls. Pay pal gifts continue to stream in. I am overwhelmed with so much to do and have over 400 emails waiting for an answer. Thank you for your patience with me right now, and thank you so much for your huge hearts and your tender words of love. The benefits are listed below that will help me pay for my living expenses while I am disabled. There are so many bills to pay and now that I cancelled my European tour, I am in debt for the airline ticket money the Finnish promoter sent me. I owe about $8000 in hospital bills that Medi-cal will not pay, plus another 5k to the Finnish promoters. Not to mention the lost wages of the band members who all lost work when I cancelled. The money raised at these benefits will go a long way towards helping me recuperate in peace without worrying about how we will survive.
My long time friend, singer, songwriter, musician Chris Gaffney is also suffering from liver cancer. Go to helpgaff.com to help him. And my friend, Ann Rabson from Saffire the Uppity Blues Women, is facing serious cancer challenges of her own almost at the same time as me. She and I have already started discussing collaborating on some upbeat cancer survivor songs when we are both healed! I feel stronger knowing that many of my friends are suffering right along with me and I know we will all prevail and be better and stronger for having gone thru this experience.
I really feel like on some level, cancer has been a blessing. (I know, ask me again when I am groaning in pain in a hospital bed!) But for the first time in my life, I have really started to think about what I eat and when I eat it. I have always been proud to be a big, voluptuous gal, and have always been active and healthy in my 200 lb plus frame, but now I am really conscious of what I am eating, and what it is made of, and where it comes from. I believe I may have chosen this challenge on some cosmic level, so I could learn from this experience and improve and I know I have been given an opportunity to grow spiritually from this fight. Maybe I will start a workshop for cancer patients to learn how to write songs and journals to help them cope with their illnesses. Music is such a powerful healer and maybe that’s why this has happened to me. I will use the cancer experience as a way to make my memoir even more powerful and meaningful. I will really be able to lay claim to the Toughest Girl Alive title now! I know my optimistic nature is coming in handy during this challenge. (Notice I refuse to say I'm sick!? I am just health challenged right now!) And it has been so helpful to know that I am not alone and that I have so many beautiful, caring people in my corner. So many of my friends around the globe are organizing benefits for me. Thank you all so much for your continued love and support. I feel your healing thoughts and energy and I hope you will keep me close to your hearts on April 18th.
Don’t worry about me people. You're not rid of me yet!!
Big Big Love and Gratitude,
UPDATE: 3/27/08 - Cancelled my European Tours and scheduled surgery for April 18th
It was an agonizing decision but I decided I had to cancel my european shows and my appearance on the blues caravan tour for the time being. I will endure the whipple procedure (pancreatic duodectomy) on april 18th at UCSD Thornton Hospital. I will be in the hospital for two weeks minimum. The address for the hospital is : 9300 Campus Point Drive, La Jolla Ca 92037.
It was a very difficult decision to cancel this tour. So many people depend on me for their income and so many people worldwide just wanted to see me sing. But I will sing again and by doing this surgery early, I have a better chance of recovering quickly and thus being able to do my other shows later this summer. I am feeling great and this extra time at home will allow me to continue my juicing and exercise and get in optimum shape before I endure this very radical surgery. Thanks so much to those of you who wrote me kind and sometimes funny emails encouraging me to stay at home. The permission slips you sent were hilarious!
I have already lost 20 pounds as a result of my dietary changes and will be lose probably another 50 pounds from this intense operation. I am sure I will be fine and will be in better shape than ever. I am already thinking about the activism I will embrace when I am well; for the health care that should be available to all of us regardless of our economic status. Poor peoples lives are worth as much as rich peoples and if I hadnt had a child under 21 and been eligible for partial pay medi-cal, if I hadnt had generous friends, fans and family who are helping, I wouldnt even be able to have cancer surgery and would just be sent home to die! This isnt right and I will fight to publicize this issue. Right now though, I just have to fight to get better and beat cancer and survive this surgery.
I am strong and I can do it. I just know it. But I still need your love, prayers, support and healing white light. Keep those positive thoughts coming!
If you want to donate $$ to the cancer fund, go to paypal.com. My user name is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can send a check to candye kane cancer fund 315 s. hwy 101 #47 encinitas, ca 92024.
Thank Goddess, I have partial pay Medi-cal insurance now but I will be laid up for months after this intense surgery and will still need to pay bills and survive with no income. Thanks in advance for your continued generosity.
Much love and gratitude;
UPDATE: 3/11/08 - My Bout with Pancreatic Cancer
Some of you may have already heard this thru the grape vine or thru close friends or family members of mine so forgive me if you are receiving this information again.
On Friday, February 22, I went to the Scripps Encinitas emergency room with abdominal pain. I have been having this pain about every four to six months, for several years now, The pain has landed me in hospitals all over the world including Belgium, Germany, Holland, Nebraska, Indiana and New Jersey. (I actually had to cancel a tour in Germany some time ago, with BB and the Blues shacks because of this problem, and left the stage at Skips in Angola, Indiana because of same.) Usually they have diagnosed the pain as acid reflux, and I personally thought the pain was gallstones but no stones have ever been found. On this feb 22 ER trip, they finally gave me a cat scan and found a 3.4 cm tumor on my pancreatic head. The report they gave me said that the "mass is presumed to be cancer or a pancreatic neoplasm unless proven otherwise."
Since the finding of this tumor, I have done lots of research on the causes, symptoms and treatments for pancreatic tumors and cancers. There is a wonderful website pancan.org that provides some amazing information for people with this cancer, if you are interested. This cancer is normally caused by excessive cigarette or alcohol consumption or family history. I have none of the above but I have been exposed to very large amounts of second hand smoke in my lifetime. I have met with a pancreatic surgeon at UCSD Moores Cancer Institute and have had an endoscopic fine needle aspiration. This is a fancy word for biopsy. The biopsy results are still not analyzed yet, but they took five samples of the tumor with a very fine needle. I had to swallow a camera and the camera introduced the needle thru my stomach wall to take samples of the tumor on my pancreas. The doctor who did the procedure, and my pancreatic surgical nurse thinks I have a neuro endocrine tumor (which is the same one that Apple founder Steve Jobs had). The biopsy made me very sick and further inflamed my pancreas, and so I was admitted into the hospital this weekend for complications and fever resulting from the biopsy. Hospitals suck and I am really glad to be back home now and am feeling much better.
Like Steve Jobs, I have radically changed my diet as a result of this tumor. I have given up coffee, sodas, meat, fish, starch and sugar. I have purchased a juicer and am juicing daily with wheatgrass, beet, carrot, parsley, ginger, cucumber, chard and many fresh fruits. I am trying to alkaline my body since I have learned that cancer cannot grow in an alkaline environment. I am staying active and upbeat and have enlisted my friends and family to surround me with positive thoughts and white healing light. Now I ask you, my fans and friends to do the same.
I still don’t know yet what the final results are of the biopsy but I should know something by the end of this week. I know that I am facing surgery, or chemotherapy, (although it is rarely successful in treating a neuroendocrine tumor) and maybe both. I am really strong and really healthy. In fact, I feel GREAT. Its weird when they tell you that you have cancer when you feel like a million bucks. Right now, I don’t know which of my upcoming shows will have to be postponed but I will make that announcement soon. I am definitely coming up to the bay area this weekend – see my tour schedule - and will probably not have to have my surgery until after at least part of my upcoming European tour. Of course, I will do whatever my doctors advise me to do so I can recover as quickly as possible.
The good news is that neuroendocrine tumors are not as aggressive or deadly as pancreatic cancer. They move slowly and are much easier to treat. The prognosis is much better for these types of islet cell tumors so that is wonderful. The bad news is I have a tumor and it will definitely affect me, my family; the band; the shows and my fans in some way, at some point.
Since I have no health insurance, its going to be a real struggle financially to survive without working. Some of you have already been very generous and kind and sent me money through paypal. My paypal account name is email@example.com. Others have been wonderfully supportive with offers for benefit concerts. My friends in Austin, Rosie Flores, Margaret Moser and Susan Antone are reportedly already organizing one, and my friends Dave Alvin and Toni Price and many other musicians and artists have kindly offered to lend their voices and guitars to my cause. I am also applying for aid from many music cares organizations and I am applying for Medi-cal. Hopefully, with the help of my friends, family and fans, and a few kindly music relief groups, I will be able to fight this tumor and get back to the job I love – making music for you!
I ask you for your love, your patience and most of all, your positive thoughts during this difficult time. If you have any extra money to give, now is the time to give it. If you live in the bay area, please come and celebrate my life and music with me and my band.
Thank you for keeping me and my sons, Evan and Tommy in your prayers. Most of all, thanks for the gracious and gentle gift of your friendship and love while I fight this current bump in the road.
Sign me – still the toughest girl alive;
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