For the past six months we have been following the medical saga of Chris Wade, the young banjo picker with Marty Raybon & Full Circle. In September of 2012, the 24-year old was given a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer more commonly found in teens. Fortunately, the diagnosis was made early, at a time when the success rate is over 80%.
Chris has since undergone a knee-replacement procedure, and several months of chemo and physical therapy. It all seems to have been effective, as his most recent visit with his medical team showed him cancer free!
“I went to Vanderbilt last week for tests and my doctor told me that the chemo worked great and nothing else showed up on the tests. So I will go back to Vanderbilt every 3 months for tests, and then after a few years I will be tested every 6 months.
Now all I have left to do is get my right hand speed up past 90 bpm and grow some hair back, and I should be good as new. The doctors will keep a close watch on me to make sure nothing else pops up, but it is great to move on to a new phase of life.
I really appreciate all the encouragement I received through all of this.”
Wade is not only a fine banjo player, but an amiable and insightful young man. I first met Chris when he was in high school, and his passion for bluegrass and thirst for banjo knowledge was evident right away. He had an almost unending stream of questions to ask whenever I heard from him, right up to the time he enrolled in the ETSU bluegrass program, and he found himself surrounded by people who could answer his questions.
But when it came to the biggest struggle of his young life, Chris said he never doubted his cure.
I am slowing getting more energy back. After my last treatment I had to spend 12 days in the hospital due to the effects of cumulative chemo treatment. I’ve lost 40 pounds since I started, and have had to take things slowly.
The doctor said it would be close to a year until I get back to feeling myself. I went over 3 weeks with out playing my banjo, and could only watch TV and play Call Of Duty because of feeling run down.
But now I have enough energy and have been playing banjo all day. I gave up TV and video games, which I wound up getting sick of!”
In the past two years, we have seen cancer diagnoses and cures for a number of bluegrass folks. Herschel Sizemore has been successfully treated for tonsil cancer, and his wife Joyce for breast cancer. Phil Leadbetter has worked through a very difficult battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, to recently being declared cancer-free following stem cell implants. Herschel continues to teach private mandolin students in retirement, while Phil is now touring with Dale Ann Bradley.
What a pleasure to add Chris Wade to this list. Look for him soon back on the road with Marty.