Another "Sam the Cat" moment

This post blends Bill's musings about the role of music in his life with his thoughts/ experience of what was happening in his cancer journey at the time.

He wrote this about a year into treatment. He'd just been switched to his "second line chemo," which happened after we discovered the immunotherapy wasn't working, after he'd already run through one of his first kinds of chemo, and after his oncologist discovered he was in the tiny, tiny percentage of patients that were allergic to the other chemo he'd been on. (Not the kind of "one percenter" he wanted to be!)

Given how sick he was when we got his initial diagnosis, he'd actually felt better than that for a good chunk of the first year, aside from what I called "post-chemo yuck" for 5-6 days each every-three-week treatment. But this 2nd kind of chemo was an ass-kicker. It mucked up his fingernails and toenails, on top of swollen calves and knees from the allergic reaction mentioned above. And his hair...I swear he had a close, personal relationship with his hair!

A great pre-read to this post is this one...where Bill writes about his personal discovery of music. See below for some photos and commentary from Laura...

I'm writing this on my phone during an intermission at a Todd Rundgren concert in Charlotte. Doug McVadon, President of Dorrier Underwood, Laura's company, invited me. I don't think he knew that Rundgren/Utopia (along with a handful of other musicians/bands) has been a part of "my soundtrack" over the last 40ish years. Fred - one of my oldest and most treasured friends turned me on to Todd Rundgren when we were in college. What a gift. I've been listening to him ever since.

I edited this today (Tuesday June 25, 2019).

This is the song that got me during the show.* Ahhh... I love it.

It's been one of those hundreds of songs whirling through my head for years... even in meetings! Shhh... (think coocoo... coocoo!) Sometimes so loud the boss could probably hear it! :D

Sitting here at the Visulite Theatre in Charlotte, NC with about 1,500 people it dawned on me that I have to say goodbye to one of the sweetest things in life, music. Not just all music, or playing music but those songs, that soundtrack that's been whirling through my head (more time than not!) throughout my whole life. I won't miss music. Hell, I'll be gone. But it had never occurred to me that I have to say goodbye to it at some point. It's been a rock solid companion, therapist, motivator, friend and so many other things. I hate the thought of saying goodbye.

I've been a shitty musician as far back as I can remember. That never bothered me. I was as good as I wanted to be, or worked at becoming. I've always been able to learn something I wanted to learn. That's good enough for me. Guitar, harmonica, a keyboard here and there. What a gift they've been to me. At the most stressful times I can remember, I've been able to sit down with my guitar and forget EVERYTHING else. Complete peace. I can't count the times that I've fallen asleep while diddlin around with my guitar. My neck snaps, I wake up and chuckle as I wipe a little puddle of drool off my Martin. There's no drug, therapy, religion, friend, woman, nothing that can turn off all that noise and make everything disappear.

Again, another reminder of this gift I've been given. I'd always figured I'd die like every other Payne/Dunbar man. From a heart attack. Boom. Done. Instead Dr. Obi - the most amazing and talented Dr. I've even known told me "If you respond well to treatment, about 30 months."

Music has never sounded sweeter. I have the time to listen to the songs that have been playing on my record/tape/cd/mp3/online player - or in my head as much and as loud as I can. And I do. I've never had so much fun playing my guitar. But until tonight it didn't dawn on my that I'd have to say goodbye to it. That hurts.

Thank you Doug. Sorry you had to catch me with a tear (ok... it was more than one!) at the Fillmore. And thank you again for taking me to a great show. Damn. Todd Rundgren is an amazing musician. I can't say I've ever gotten so emotional at a concert. Or, whipped out my phone and started typing during an intermission. I'm glad I did. I don't want to forget how I felt. Thank you again.

Maybe I'll make a list of groups or songs that have been a part of me for so long. Nobody has to listen to it. But it'll feel good to put it in writing. I wish everybody could feel how I feel when I listen to it.


It's 1:13am. I'm copying what I wrote over to the blog. I'm standing here in front of a laptop. My head itched. I scratched it and combed my fingers through my hair. It's coming out. I never noticed it this badly. I'm afraid it's going to happen after all. Damn. For the last year I've been able to sneak under the cancer/sick-guy radar. Dr Obi said it's a 65% chance I'll lose it. I thought I'd get a break. Till now, to look at me you wouldn't know I was sick. Once my hair is gone it's going to be pretty obvious. My scalp has been itching ever since I started the new chemo drugs 2 weeks ago. I should have known it would happen.

I've got to tell a few more people - one to one. And then I'm going to have to say something on stinkin Facebook. Shit. I've dreaded this.

I hate to have my picture taken but I think tomorrow morning I'm going to ask Laura to take a couple pictures. Maybe if I have Nugget in them I won't feel so stupid. I don't know why having a couple pictures with hair is so important to me. I don't want to look sick.

I've always said "All I have is good hair and a decent sense of humor." I'm not laughing right now. This is real. The clock is ticking faster and faster.

Anywho... Here's a pretty cool playlist. I moved it down so I could put the "one that got me" during the show.

Here are a couple greats...

If you can train yourself to like this whole album you'll be better for it. Really!

It will take more than one listen. Those are my favorites.

Here's one more. It's a single file but the track list is in the description. It's worth learning to like too. There's not a bad song on this. Magic.


* "A Dream Lives On Forever" by Todd Rundgren

A million old soldiers will fade away
But a dream goes on forever
I'm left standing here, I've got nothing to say
All is silent within my dream
A thousand true loves will live and die
But a dream lives on forever
The days and the years will go streaking by
But the time has stopped in my dream
We all have our everyday hopes and fears
And you'll find no exception in me
But that doesn't get me through a sea of tears
Over life's biggest tragedy
You're so long ago and so far away
But my dream lives on forever
I guess I believe that I'll see you one day
For without it there is no dream
You're so far away and so long ago
But my dream goes on forever
And how much I loved you you'll never know
'Til you join me within my dream


  1. Wow Wilbur - I've got no words after reading this - my heart aches as it has been over this past year. I love you and admire you more than you'll ever know big brother.
    On another note, heck yeah, I will listen to your play list!

    1. You know... I've been called a lot of things in my life... Oh wait. That's another story. There's only one person who's called me Wilbur. And that would be the sweetest sister ever hatched. Lizzy you make your big brother proud. And you're probably the only human who might not judge me while listening to that playlist. haha... Pretty Fly for a White Guy caught you off guard today eh? :D


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