For one, my wife Sylvie has just completed her final of eight chemo sessions last Thursday. It's been a really tough five months, but thankfully, we're done. There's a bit of a break before radiation treatments start.
But for now, it's a huge relief and a much-needed break.
The toughest part of it all is, chemo truly knocks the wind out of Sylvie for a few days afterwards. Aside from the common side-effects of nausea, exhaustion, bone pain and hairloss, Sylvie also often complains of “chemo brain.”
It's when your mind seems foggy, and you have a hard time concentrating or remembering things. But it only lasts for a few days following chemo. (The best part is, we're finally done.)
However, the chemo ward got a little surprise…
You see, in the chemo ward at the Ottawa General Hospital Cancer Centre, there are over 40 beds, each flanked by an intravenous machine. (Every time we're there, all the beds are busy throughout the day. It's amazing to me to see how many people suffer from this dreadful disease. Sad, really.)
Anyway, at the end of the hall near the exit, there's an old bell hanging on the wall, with a dangling cord. When patients leave after their last chemo treatment, tradition says that they must ring the bell.
I've been there with my wife, by her side, with each session, where a session can last up to 6 hours. (It makes for a long day, let me tell you.)
During each session, we hear the bell ring at least 2-3 times. The entire ward — nurses, doctors, patients and all — break into applause. It's quite an event. And it also gave Sylvie something to look forward to. (She couldn't wait when it'd be her turn!)
Some people ring it only slightly. Others, with one big clang. Well, Sylvie is definitely not the timid type. (In fact, the nurses call her the “firebug” because she's always funspirited, positive and energetic.)
Well, when it was Sylvie's turn this last Thursday, the moment we've all been waiting for had finally arrived. And all I can say is, she didn't hold back. She rang the bell so loud, it could have woken up the entire hospital! (The nurses turned to me, whispering, “Is she always like this?” “Yup! Always,” I replied.)
But here's something else that happened this week.
Colin Arthur Wiebe is an Internet marketer. He owns several websites as well as his own marketing company. He's been one of my followers for a long time. And yesterday, he contacted me out of the blue.
You see, Colin is not only a marketer. (He does it part time.) He's a professional musician. Touring extensively, he plays in his own band as well as the Randy Bachman band.
Yes, that Randy Bachman.
You know, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Guess Who, and more. And Randy's band just so happened to be in town last night to kick off the Winterlude festivities. (Winterlude is Ottawa, Canada's equivalent of Mardi Gras.)
Since Colin knew I was in Ottawa, he contacted me, asking me to meet with him over coffee. “Sure,” I said. So we met at Starbucks downtown just two hours prior to the band going on stage for a sound check.
We talked business. We talked marketing. And we certainly talked music. Colin is an extremely talented musician, with many CDs under his belt. (Colin has played with the likes of Kid Rock, Alice Cooper, Neil Young, Three Dog Night, The Doobie Brothers and The Little River Band, among others.)
Here's the interesting bit. Colin also recorded a song, called “Ride of Your Life,” for the Canadian Cancer Society. And as a gift, he gave me a copy of the song on CD for my wife.
(He's a true gentleman, through and through.)
But there's an even “cooler” part to this story.
Colin's gig was only about a little over an hour long, followed by a “press” party for corporate sponsors — like American Express, for example. (It would be an early night anyway, since he had to leave very early the next morning for another gig in Vancouver.)
He asked me to join him as a VIP at the Randy Bachman Band show at Winterlude, followed by the party. I had to refuse since my own band, Jaded Way, had a gig at one of the local watering holes, The Carleton Tavern.
I felt bad because I would have loved to have joined them. But Colin was kind enough to extend the invitation, and that alone was pretty impressive to me.
Anyway, I left Starbucks on my way to getting ready for my own gig. We had a lot of work to do (unlike Colin's band, and as part-time musicians, we are our own roadies and transport all of our equipment ourselves).
Our band played to a packed house. Standard Friday night at the good ol' Carleton. And it was fun, as usual.
But then, we were in for a surprise, too.
Right at the end of the second set, in walks Colin, two of his friends and Randy Bachman's nephew,
Braxton Paxton (who plays guitar with his band)!
Yup, I was stunned.
After the set ended, I introduced them to the rest of my band, and we had a good time. Talking about music, instruments, the gig, etc. You know, musician stuff. But it didn't stop there.
We asked them to come up on stage and join us for a few songs. And they agreed! Colin got behind the keyboards while
Braxton Paxton picked up the guitar. We played, albeit completely unrehearsed, songs like “American Woman” (by the Guess Who), “Takin' Care of Business” (by BTO) and a whaling, extended rendition of “Mustang Sally.”
The crowd went nuts!
Colin is quite a showman. He had the crowd dancing, clapping, singing along, screaming, stomping, jumping, you name it! (And when they ended, people were clamoring for his autograph. It was an awesome night all around.)
Too bad Sylvie couldn't make it, since her chemo was a day earlier and exhaustion, coupled with “chemo brain,” were making their usual appearances. She would have loved to, I'm sure. But thank goodness it's the last time, though!
Nevertheless, Colin topped off a wonderful week with a celebration of life, love and good times — those had and certainly those to come. (And yes, many, many more are coming, that's for sure.)
Thank you, Colin. You guys made the band's night (and certainly the crowd's, too). And you certainly made Sylvie's week.
We were truly honored. Again, thank you.