I performed onstage one last time on Saturday. It was an inspiring and emotional day. I sang and spent the day with some of the most important people in my life, and awareness was raised about prostate cancer, and how important it is to get your PSA checked, and to know what your PSA score means.
It was a day of making connections with some, and being together for the last time with others. Many goodbyes were said. A day of highs and lows.
On one level, it was a rock concert. The winter show for The Littleton Conservatory Of Rock was a resounding success. The musicians, ranging in age from nine to nineteen, were polished and professional. A big crowd turned out, larger than any LCR show I'd seen before. I was excited. This would be a day to remember.
Friends traveled from out of state to be here. One was a couple from Iowa who I'd met in the Prostate Cancer Support Group on Facebook. Another was a friend I'd met at Morsefest, who came here to support me, see the show, and spend some time with Sharon and me. I was very honored that each of these friends traveled such a distance to be here.
I'm the vocal coach for the Conservatory. I've been doing that for about a year and a half, and it's one of the great passions of my life. I talk about it often in this blog. When we began rehearsals for this show last November, I told the kids this would have to be my last show, due to my health. The next one won't be until summer, and I don't expect to be able to participate then.
I told these young musicians I wanted them to make this show the best one we've ever done, this being my last one. The only way to do that is through preparation, I told them. They responded, and were more prepared for this show than I've ever seen them before. Music stands went unused for the last few rehearsals. The bands were tight. The singers were polished. I was very proud.
But while it was a rock show, it was also a concert to raise awareness for men's health, especially the need for men to get their PSA tested to see if they may have prostate cancer. It was important to me to communicate that to the men who were there. Vouchers for free PSA tests were contributed by a local health fair. I made a speech about it. Shocking, I know.
I began by giving credit to the kids for all the work they had done. The tickets said, "One More Time... For Mark" on them, but I made it clear that, while the show may be for me, it wasn't about me. It was about those kids. Then I told my story. My cautionary tale.
I told how not paying attention to my PSA score for years led to it being suspiciously high, and how skipping my PSA test for just one year was enough to push me from the operable and curable category to the inoperable and incurable one. That period between 2013 and 2015 was when the unstoppable, more aggressive version of my cancer made its appearance. I told them that, as a result, I am now in hospice care. I hope that got their attention.
I pointed them to the vouchers we had available. I told the men they were all the right age, and that there should be no vouchers left after the show. I asked the women there to grab one for their husbands. This event was not about me, it was about saving lives. And rocking the house while were at it.
The final, full-band version of Dear Prudence followed my speech, but not before I bragged on my friend Cole, and told about the previous two videos I'd made of that song for my friend Cindy. What a thrill it was to perform that song with that band. My friend Todd, who runs the Conservatory, gave me an awesome band for my one solo. Including the singers I call my Dynamic Duo, Payton and Ally. I can't think of a better way to leave the stage.
I know many have gotten the impression that I've said this before. If I left the impression that I would never take the stage again for any reason, that wasn't what I meant to say. But now it is. Performing costs me too much now. It takes too much energy. It's exhausting if you're doing it right, even in perfect health.
In addition, there will be no opportunity for me to perform in the future. The LCR summer show doesn't begin rehearsing until June, and as I said earlier, I doubt I'll be in any shape to participate by then. If I'm even still here, which to be honest, I have doubts about. I'm just being honest about how I feel.
I will continue to work with the band Wik, but I won't take the stage with them again. I feel strongly that it's time for them to do it on their own. They don't need Grandpa onstage. Trust me on this. I'm happy to be the video guy, and their biggest fan.
No churches are asking me to come sing at their church, and I'm fine with that. At this point in my life, I'd rather just go to church and worship than have a gig during church. It's what I need for the rest of my life. Just to be a worshiper rather than trying to be a rock star.
I spent a lifetime trying to be famous. I did music to try to make that happen. It never did. A friend told me last week, that it's like God is saying, "Well, here you go, Mark. This is what you'll be famous for." I like that. I like the idea of being famous for being a blessing rather than a star. I like the idea of being famous for making a difference. I hope that's what I'm doing.
I think I've made a difference in some young lives. After the concert, one by one, they came up to me to say their goodbyes. The first was my friend Lacey. She said the misty look in her eyes was for a different reason, but there was some emotion in that moment. She is special to me. When she walked away, I realized we had just said goodbye, maybe for the last time. I welled up. The next hour was one kid after another telling me how good it had been to work with me. I said goodbye to kids I love that day.
It was hard, but it was good. It's a blessing to be able to say your goodbyes. So many never get that chance. That's why I was glad to have this one last show. One more time... for Mark, but not about him. It was about saving lives and making a difference. And love. It was all about love. #waroncancer #bearingwitness