A Punch in the Gut (#fuckcancer)

Posted: October 31, 2014 in A Little Less Profound
Tags: ,

By Glen

(“All At Once”) is just about the stages of life, and how you wake up one day and your whole life changes, and it tends to happen very, very quickly. You know, you sort of tend to live in these quiet moments in between these massive moments of change. The change happens all at once. That’s sort of what the song’s about, just being in that moment: the birth of a child, the death of a parent, maybe you get diagnosed with a disease or some terrible accident or something awful happens to you – or something wonderful, some great opportunity happens to you. And your life five minutes before that is one way, and five minutes after is another way.  Mikel Jollett

I’ve experienced my share of All At Once moments; if I’m being honest/self-pitying, (which is how I’m feeling today, so please bear with the whimpering self-indulgence), I’d say I’ve had more than my fair share. But then, life doesn’t seem terribly concerned about what’s fair, or whether or not now is a convenient time, or how much you think you can handle. Tragedy is indiscriminate, and fate can be a cruel, cold-hearted bitch.

Another one of those moments struck this week, and this one was a real punch in the gut… in the back… in the face. 

It came when I was in Calgary on a business trip, enjoying a long-awaited dinner out with my mom and grandma. I had barely savored the first taste of my appetizer when I received the call: a call I had once dreaded, but long since forgotten.

When my daughter Becca was born, she entered the world with transitory leukemia, a rare condition occurring only in newborns with Down syndrome, in which blast cells that are normally associated with leukemia are found in the blood. They are not cancerous and they clear up on their own within a week or so.

Having this condition meant Becca had an elevated risk of getting real leukemia for the first five years of her life, and had to get regular blood tests to confirm that it hadn’t developed. I tried to push the fears away, but they stubbornly lingered in the back of my mind, except when they rudely shoved their way to the front around check-up time.

I breathed a sigh of relief when the five-year window closed and her risk level dropped to the normal range for children with Down syndrome, which is higher than for typical kids, but still a long shot. It seemed we had dodged the bullet.

And yet, there I was five years later in a Calgary restaurant, processing the news I had convinced myself was never going to come. And now, here I sit three days later beside a bed at Children’s Hospital, my brave, beautiful girl hooked up to a machine, wondering why these strangers keep poking and prodding her, too wiped out to enjoy a Halloween she’d been talking about for weeks.

As leukemia goes, we’re told that we got lucky. She has the most treatable kind, and it was caught very early. While there are never any guarantees with cancer, her prognosis at the outset is good.

Somehow, it doesn’t feel lucky. 

From the Department of Things That Don’t Matter At All, this brought an abrupt end to my 90 days of TATE, 48-hours earlier than expected. My scheduled detour to L.A. for The Airborne Toxic Event’s homecoming show at the Greek was abandoned as I hightailed it back to Vancouver on the first available flight out of Calgary. Not that I have much to complain about when it comes to TATE, having been spoiled rotten with six other exhilarating Airborne shows over the past three months. And clearly, missing this final gig was the least of my concerns, given the circumstances. Still, it sucks. Just the first of many things that cancer will rob our family of over the next two years.

But if you’re going to go through shit like this (and we all do), what better band to have in your ears for the journey than The Airborne Toxic Event? The group’s unvarnished, unsugarcoated perspective on the ugly, disappointing and downright terrifying side of life is just what the doctor ordered, at least for me. Many others have shared how the band has helped them through similar battles (see here and here and here and here); now I’ll have a story of my own to add to the mix.

Even more important than the music, though, are the people. First, the band members themselves, who are just wonderful human beings. What other band would take the time to send a message of support to a fan like the one seen above? It is so much appreciated, and just another reason why TATE is the best band, bar none.

And then there are the fans. I’m overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we’ve received from the TATE fan community. Thank you to each and every one of you for your kind words, positive thoughts and prayers. It is so much appreciated, and just another reason why TATE fans are the best fans, bar none. 

Many have encouraged me to step back from This Is Nowhere for as long as I need to. And believe me, I will.

Sort of.

The next seven months are going to be a full-time juggling act as my wife and I attempt to balance our daughter’s treatment with the needs of our three other kids (one of whom may be facing major surgery of his own during that time), along with work, school and perhaps even occasionally seeing each other. It seems there will be little time and energy left for such frivolous pursuits as breathlessly reporting on every move a rock band makes.

On the other hand, these months will also include countless evenings spent in a dark, quiet hospital room next to a sleeping beauty, with little else to do but fiddle with a dope machine.

Besides which, I need something in my life besides leukemia and work. That slice of time that is set aside for me will get squeezed and bent out of shape to be sure, but it’s critical that we maintain something of ourselves in the midst of this storm, however small. And there’s nothing I love more than writing about this band that gives me so much to think about, especially at a time like this.

So yes, This Is Nowhere is still alive, if not well. I’m freeing myself of any expectations or sense of obligation to stick to a schedule or stay on top of every single piece of breaking TATE news, so it may be more sporadic than usual. But as time and motivation and inspiration allow, things will keep rolling around here.

“And I feel the water rising around us
Maybe that’s okay
Yeah, I feel the world changing all at once 
I guess it’ll be okay”

Here’s the little girl who is already amazing me with her huge courage: TATE’s cutest fan.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

  1. Maria says:

    My prayers are with you all, Glen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan says:

    Schedules are overrated. You shout any time you need something. Famous people, like you, get stuff like that. Take care of your children, your lovely wife, and yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Glen, All the best of prayers and good thoughts coming your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. treendabean says:

    Thanks for this, Glen. Becca is such a precious little thing. I’ll be rooting for her, and your whole family, through this whole thing. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pugsma says:

    My Prayers and thoughts are with your daughter, you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy says:

    I’m so thankful that your work on this blog could help bring me into such a wonderful TATE family. I hope it, the band and the family can continue to help sustain you during this hard time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Andy says:

    We can´t say it enough. Thank you so much for TIN, Glen. All the best to your little girl Becca and your whole family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tom S. says:

    Fuck Cancer, indeed. Your little girl is amazing though, she’s going to rock that cancer harder than she rocked Missy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dawn McElfresh says:

    Let us know if your daughter (or other kids) need any fun surprises. We could send things (coloring books, stickers, whatever makes them smile). We’re here for all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Marc says:

    As always Glen so well written. Kristi and I are thinking of you and your family during this time. We would love to be able to do something to help in some way. Just say the word. Godspeed TATE brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bella says:

    Glen, she’s such a poppet. Positive thoughts and love coming your way . Clare x

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jcstoller says:

    Much love to you Glen, Christie and the rest of the clan – an especially beautiful Becca, the littlest rock star! I’m sending good thoughts and healing energy for all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. alenamjames says:

    Your little girl is so beautiful and those punches to the gut will only make her, you, and the rest of your family stronger. Your TATE family is thinking about you guys. Thank you for giving us all a place to share and connect! We are all here for you. Much love, bro!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We’ll be with you the whole way. Take all the time you need. We’re all rooting for your little girl! Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Brittany says:

    What a beautiful little girl. Much love to you, Becca, and the rest of your family Glen. Sending positive thoughts & vibes your way. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Stan Silverman says:

    Hi Glen,

    I only met you in SF so don’t know you well. Susan sent me your posts and told me about your daughter. I’m sure the news is devastating! I don’t really deal with pediatrics in my practice but from what I know, there have been great strides in childhood leukemia. It’s a much more curable disease than it used to be. Try to be optimistic. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.


    Liked by 1 person

  17. Teresa says:

    Hi Glen:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this trying time.

    I would like to share something with you and offer some possible assistance. Please shoot me an email so I have your email and can respond back. My addy is: tinkthespike@windstream.net.

    God bless,

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Glen-
    I recently found your blog, and it’s been a pleasure reading your posts about TATE. I wish there were some words I could write, or advice I could share. Please know that me and my family will keep you and yours in our thoughts and prayers.


  19. cindy says:

    thinking of you, your precious girl and your family #fuckcancer


  20. […] A Punch in the Gut (#fuckcancer) […]


  21. […] then real life rudely interrupted, as it is wont to do. Late October brought news of my daughter’s leukemia, immediately throwing everything into sharp […]


  22. […] On October 28, I received a phone call that changed my life. My wife was on the other end, and though it took a few minutes for my brain to decipher the words that fell from her lips, it eventually sunk in: our daughter had leukemia. […]


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