Phil Leadbetter benefit in March

Another benefit concert has been scheduled in Knoxville for Phil Leadbetter, who continues to undergo treatment for a very stubborn cancer that has been try resistant to common therapies. Phil has dedicated his life to bluegrass music, working in turn as resonator guitarist for such notable acts as J.D. Crowe & the New South, Wildfire, Grasstowne, and The Whites.

Though trained as a nurse and understanding the critical importance of maintaining health insurance, Phil was uninsured when his cancer was diagnosed, and his many friends in the music world have bent over backwards to help him meet his expanding medical expenses.

This upcoming benefit show is scheduled for March 3 at Knowville’s Relix Theater, billed as Pickin’ For A Cure. Performing will be Jerry Butler & The Blue Jays, The Darrell Webb Band, and The Skip Cherryholmes Quintet, followed by a set from The Phil Leadbetter All Stars. And all-stars they are, indeed: Sammy Shelor on banjo, Clay Jones and Junior Sisk on guitar and vocals, , Jim VanCleve on fiddle, Matt Leadbetter (Phil’s son) on dobro, Gena Britt on bass and vocals, and  Darrell Webb on mandolin and vocals.

Britt and Mike Kelly organized this concert for their good friend, Phil, who agreed to share some of the details of his situation with our readers.

“I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the 1st week of April, 2011. I went through 6 rounds / 12 doses of chemo which lasted 6 months. My PET scan after these 6 rounds showed that my cancer was still active.

I got accepted for a clinical trial of a brand new medicine called Adcetris which was just developed for this kind of cancer. I was one the first people in the U.S to get to use this drug. I had 2 rounds of it, and had heard nothing but great stuff about it. I was hoping this new drug would get me into remission where I could get a stem cell transplant.

I had a new PET scan on 12/31/11, and met with my stem cell oncologist on 1/4 /12  thinking I may hear some good news. He told me that my cancer had not responded to the new medication, and had became more aggressive. He then told me I wasn’t a candidate for stem cell until we could get this under control.

I was admitted to the hospital 2 days later, and started on another type of chemo that the doctors said was more aggressive, and was needed to fight this aggressive cancer. I just finished my 2 rounds ( 4 treatments) of it Friday on 2/3/12. I will be having another PET scan in a couple of weeks after the cells settle down a little. Hoping that maybe the cancer cells have slowed down where I can get into the stem cell transplant program.

Stem cell is the only way to really cure this stuff that I have. It will involve 6 weeks of some very potent in-hospital treatment. This proceedure involves taking fresh blood cells from my bone marrow. They will then freeze them. I will be given very potent does of chemo while I’m in the hospital that will basically kill most of my bone marrow and most of my blood cells.

After a few days, the frozen stem cells of mine will be thawed and re-injected into my body. Then they should start to multiply. This is a very tough and costly proceedure, but I know that I need it in order to be healed.

Thanks to everyone for all the prayers and for the donations. There’s no way I could ever be getting the treatment I am getting without your help and prayers. Please pray for my family as well. This is very tough on them.

God has opened so many doors for me since I have been sick. I hope to see everyone again to personally thank each one of you.

Just found out I will be teaching at ResoSummit this year, so this is even more incentive to get well, and get back out there. I really miss it so much. You just don’t realize how much you miss it until you can no longer do it. I’m gonna do everything I can to get myself back out there.”

If you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation towards Leadbetter’s treatment costs, they can be sent to:

Phil Leadbetter
PO Box 70713
Knoxville, TN 37938-0713

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.