3-time Cancer Survivor’s Letter to Pearl Jam

PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
Dear Pearl Jam,

My name is Peter Pearson and I am a 3-time cancer survivor.   I was listening to Amongst the Waves yesterday.  I was struck with the lyric, “I gotta say it now, better loud than too late.”  That lyric sparked this note because I’ve made a promise to myself to say and write the things I want to say.   I’ve learned tomorrow isn’t promised.  What follows is how Pearl Jam provided positive light during the darkest times of my life.   

I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in August 2013.  Within two months, the tumors responded and I was declared cancer-free.  I finished the remaining treatments and continued to be in remission.   3 months later, I found a new lump in my neck and I was told that I would have to fight Hodgkin’s for a second time.   

This was August 2014.  I had already purchased tickets to the Pearl Jam show for October in St. Paul.   The likelihood of being able to attend the show was very low, since the new treatment plan included a stem-cell transplant which was supposed to happen in October.  Due to some complications, my stem-cell transplant was delayed.  That delay allowed me to attend the show.  Prior to the show, the band toured the University of Minnesota’s hospital.    During the concert, they brought out the lead bone marrow (stem-cell) transplant doctor at Children's Hospital in Minnesota. His name was Dr Jakub Tolar. Dr Tolar said the following, "When you listen to his music, his lyrics, you know that it goes to your brain, your heart and your marrow. I am a bone marrow transplant physician and what I do for a living has lots to do with what he does for a living. What we both do is give people hope." As I wiped away tears, I had a new mantra for my stem-cell transplant. Hope.

Fast forward to 2016.  I had just finished a year of maintenance chemo following my stem-cell transplant, I was cancer-free.  I bought tickets to the Pearl Jam shows at Wrigley for August 2016.   Two weeks before the concert, I felt a new lump in my neck.   I asked my doctors to delay biopsies and scans until after the concerts.  They agreed.   However, I needed to be back in Minneapolis the Tuesday morning following the concert for the first of many meetings with my doctors.  During the first night, Steve Gleason came out to introduce Inside Job.  He brought tears to my eyes as he said, “Everyone who has a heartbeat will face adversity, but when you experience those moments, like the message in this song, how we choose to feel is how we are. And I feel fucking awesome.”   So, after an epic weekend attending both shows, I went straight from the concert to the airport to catch a red—eye back to Minnesota and drove straight from the airport to my first of many appointments confirming a third recurrence.  Thanks to Mr. Gleason and Pearl Jam, I was heading into the new fight the mantra, “How I choose to feel, Is how I am.”

With a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, I achieved remission for a third time.   On the way to my final chemo appointment, I was listening to the bootlegs from Wrigley.   Pulling into the  parking lot, Surrender was just finishing with the “We’re all alright” refrain and the opening chords of Alive started. Covered in goosebumps, I walked in to the clinic with the message that reassured me that I was indeed alright and still Alive.  

5 months later, I’m back to where I was 2 years ago, I just got drawn for tickets to Wrigley.   Cancer-free, finished with treatment and looking forward to spending a weekend in Chicago with my brother and nephew, and my best friend for what will be another epic weekend following our favorite band.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve written a blog to chronicle my trials and tribulations through my cancer treatments.  And each time I’ve completed a course of treatments, I’ve ended my posts the same way:

My brother posted lyrics to one of my favorite songs in my guest book. 

 

Here they are: 

 

And the wind keeps rollin 

And the sky keeps turning grey 

And the sun is setting 

The sun will rise another day 

I have wished for so long... How I wish for you today 

Will I walk the long road? 

We all walk the long road 


I definitely walked the long road, but at no time was I walking alone. God blessed me with each of you in my life.  81,500 times during the past four years my caringbridge site has been visited. 81,500 times you have joined me as I walked the long road. All through this incredibly humbling process, I have struggled with the words to adequately express how much your support means to me and my family. Early on, I settled on Thank You, with the understanding that those two small words carry a tremendous amount of gratitude and love. So, I say again, Thank you. The sun is setting on this very, very, very long and surreal day. The sun will rise another day. A day that I am cancer-free, finished with treatment, and thankful for the blessings that have been bestowed on me. I leave you today with this promise; when you are walking your long road, you will not be walking alone. 

Since I probably never will have a chance to tell the band in person, I will settle for saying it here.  Thank you, Pearl Jam.  You have been the soundtrack of my long road.  You provided me with hope and light in a really dark time and the attitude to carry on when the road got long.  Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

With deep respect,

Peter Pearson

 


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Comments

  • jpdannabellejpdannabelle Posts: 555
    edited March 11
    Best of luck my friend. You have faced adversity and fear head on and came out a winner. At some point in life everyone walks that long road. Your story should inspire everyone to keep walking and never give up. Enjoy the show this summer. 
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    Thank you!
  • jmug23jmug23 Posts: 634
    Amazing read and amazing journey and story. Good luck to you Mr Pearson and may you continue to inspire as much as you have been inspired. 
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    Thank you 
  • lukemil33lukemil33 Vandalia, OHPosts: 202
    Incredible read. I've always believed music has the power to get you through anything and I think you know better than anyone that it can. Those special moments in songs and concerts keep us fighting through whatever happens. I'm glad you found strength in Pearl Jam and I'm looking forward to rocking with you at the Wrigley concert!
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    Cheers!  Thank you, friend!
  • i_lov_iti_lov_it Perth, Western AustraliaPosts: 3,898

    Thank you for sharing this what an amazing read...

    So glad to hear that you pulled through and that you are ok I am so Happy for you... definitely an inspiring story to share...you are very Brave and your story should definitely be an inspiration too others...

    Glad you also managed to get Tickets to Wrigley you will have an amazing time with such great People listening to such Wonderful Music :)

    E.V. - "Music is a Weapon of Mass Construction"
    Perth-20th March 1998
    Perth-23rd February 2003
    Perth-25th November 2006
    Perth-14th November 2009
    E.V. - Perth-31st March, 1st April 2011
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    Thank you!
  • i_lov_iti_lov_it Perth, Western AustraliaPosts: 3,898
    PP49889 said:
    Thank you!
    You're Welcome anytime :)
    E.V. - "Music is a Weapon of Mass Construction"
    Perth-20th March 1998
    Perth-23rd February 2003
    Perth-25th November 2006
    Perth-14th November 2009
    E.V. - Perth-31st March, 1st April 2011
  • hedonisthedonist standing on the edge of foreverPosts: 19,223
    Beautiful!  I'm sure you've had your moments, but it sounds like you've made it through with grace and an inspiring perspective.

    May you continue to thrive...and enjoy the experience(s) to come.
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    hedonist said:
    Beautiful!  I'm sure you've had your moments, but it sounds like you've made it through with grace and an inspiring perspective.

    May you continue to thrive...and enjoy the experience(s) to come.
    Thank you!
  • nicknyr15nicknyr15 Posts: 2,272
    Wow. Just when you think you got it bad, u read something like this. What an amazing attitude and a truly inspirational read. 
  • lastexitlondonlastexitlondon Posts: 3,705
    This brought tears to my eyes instantly. Dont give up on telling the band in person. This board has power and you my friend are an inspiration to me. How i choose to feel is how i am. Indeed. Love to you and your dear family
    brixton 93
    astoria 06
    albany 06
    hartford 06
    reading 06
    barcelona 06
    paris 06
    wembley 07
    dusseldorf 07
    nijmegen 07

    this song is meant to be called i got shit,itshould be called i got shit tickets-hartford 06 -
  • kce8kce8 Posts: 1,298
    You also brought tears to my eyes. I may not find the right words, but I am grateful that you shared your story here.
    As the others have said, you are also an inspiration and I send you the best wishes from abroad!
    I'm sure I'll think about you when you are rocking with your friends in Wrigley! :smile:
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    nicknyr15 said:
    Wow. Just when you think you got it bad, u read something like this. What an amazing attitude and a truly inspirational read. 
    Thank you.  
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    This brought tears to my eyes instantly. Dont give up on telling the band in person. This board has power and you my friend are an inspiration to me. How i choose to feel is how i am. Indeed. Love to you and your dear family
    Thank you for the kind words.  
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    kce8 said:
    You also brought tears to my eyes. I may not find the right words, but I am grateful that you shared your story here.
    As the others have said, you are also an inspiration and I send you the best wishes from abroad!
    I'm sure I'll think about you when you are rocking with your friends in Wrigley! :smile:
    Thank you!
  • stuckinlinestuckinline Posts: 2,366
    Peter,
    Thank you for sharing your 'long road'.  I wish you peace, hope and joy! 
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    Peter,
    Thank you for sharing your 'long road'.  I wish you peace, hope and joy! 
    Thank you.  
  • samjamsamjam New YorkPosts: 9,280
    Thank you so much for sharing. PJ has helped so many in difficult times, myself included, and the power of music is truly amazing. Wishing you good health and many more PJ shows in the future!
    "Sometimes you find yourself having to put all your faith in no faith."
    ~not a dude~
    2010: MSGx2
    2012: Made In America
    2013: Pittsburgh, Brooklynx2, Hartford, Baltimore
    2014: Leeds, Milton Keynes, Detroit
    2015: Global Citizen Festival
    2016: Phillyx2, MSGx2, Fenwayx2
    2018: Barcelona, Wrigleyx2
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    samjam said:
    Thank you so much for sharing. PJ has helped so many in difficult times, myself included, and the power of music is truly amazing. Wishing you good health and many more PJ shows in the future!
    Thank you!
  • 1upstate1upstate near Syracuse NY Posts: 155
    Thank you for sharing your journey you've taken. Music is my release and my safety place.  Even before I was sick music could move me to tears. But now, it happens frequently.  My signature says it all....  Your words encourage me as I battle stage 4 kidney cancer and plan my first trip to Chicago.  

    For me, its been 4 months of surgeries, pokes, prods, IV's, blood work and chemo.  Life is meant to be lived.  Don't wait. You truly never know. 
    "I know I was born and I know that I'll die. The in between is mine"
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    1upstate said:
    Thank you for sharing your journey you've taken. Music is my release and my safety place.  Even before I was sick music could move me to tears. But now, it happens frequently.  My signature says it all....  Your words encourage me as I battle stage 4 kidney cancer and plan my first trip to Chicago.  

    For me, its been 4 months of surgeries, pokes, prods, IV's, blood work and chemo.  Life is meant to be lived.  Don't wait. You truly never know. 
    Cancer is incredibly unfair.  Another one of my favorite quotes that kept me centered was by Stuart Scott, “You beat Cancer by how you live, while you live, in the manner in which you live.”   I’ll be waking the long road with you, friend.  Fight like hell!
  • 1upstate1upstate near Syracuse NY Posts: 155
    PP49889 said:
    1upstate said:
    Thank you for sharing your journey you've taken. Music is my release and my safety place.  Even before I was sick music could move me to tears. But now, it happens frequently.  My signature says it all....  Your words encourage me as I battle stage 4 kidney cancer and plan my first trip to Chicago.  

    For me, its been 4 months of surgeries, pokes, prods, IV's, blood work and chemo.  Life is meant to be lived.  Don't wait. You truly never know. 
    Cancer is incredibly unfair.  Another one of my favorite quotes that kept me centered was by Stuart Scott, “You beat Cancer by how you live, while you live, in the manner in which you live.”   I’ll be waking the long road with you, friend.  Fight like hell!
    Lots of fight in me. What amazes me is the pure strangers that know what I am dealing with and the unwavering support they give me.  My appreciation for the support I am given by my family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers has humbled me. I'll leave it at that. 

    See you on tour in a few short months! 
    "I know I was born and I know that I'll die. The in between is mine"
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    1upstate said:
    PP49889 said:
    1upstate said:
    Thank you for sharing your journey you've taken. Music is my release and my safety place.  Even before I was sick music could move me to tears. But now, it happens frequently.  My signature says it all....  Your words encourage me as I battle stage 4 kidney cancer and plan my first trip to Chicago.  

    For me, its been 4 months of surgeries, pokes, prods, IV's, blood work and chemo.  Life is meant to be lived.  Don't wait. You truly never know. 
    Cancer is incredibly unfair.  Another one of my favorite quotes that kept me centered was by Stuart Scott, “You beat Cancer by how you live, while you live, in the manner in which you live.”   I’ll be waking the long road with you, friend.  Fight like hell!
    Lots of fight in me. What amazes me is the pure strangers that know what I am dealing with and the unwavering support they give me.  My appreciation for the support I am given by my family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers has humbled me. I'll leave it at that. 

    See you on tour in a few short months! 
    Right on!   
  • BK221359BK221359 Nashville, TNPosts: 166
    Fight on brother...
    Pensacola, FL - 3-9-1994
    New Orleans, LA - 9-17-1995
    New Orleans, LA - 8-14-2000
    Lexington, KY - 4-26-2016
    Nashville, TN - 6-9-2016 (TMR)
    Bonnaroo - 6-11-2016
  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    BK221359 said:
    Fight on brother...
    Thank you.  It’s my plan!
  • Ray J. T.Ray J. T. Posts: 3,514
    Thank you for sharing this. I know the long road and adversity you have faced during your course of treatments was something that has brought new meaning and perspective in your life. I lost my brother in law to this exact diagnosis of cancer 4 years ago, and I myself was brought new meaning and perspective on my outlook towards life since then. He was only 26 years of age as he lost his battle. I for one will say that I can understand exactly what it is you feel as you hear these lyrics stir up all sorts of emotions as they are sang. Most of the songs that I have seen live since his passing have brought up all kinds of emotions in me. And I will say that I was never the same again after that Inside Job performance with Steve Gleason as well.  I am very glad you decided to share this with us, as reading your positive outcome has given me an overwhelming sensation that we are all right. Hope to see you in Wrigley as we will be there for both nights again this year as well. 

    Cheers! 
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 25,039
    Well done, Peter.  Keep on rockin'!
    "Love and only love will break it down"
    -Neil Young
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.





  • PP49889PP49889 Posts: 101
    Ray J. T. said:
    Thank you for sharing this. I know the long road and adversity you have faced during your course of treatments was something that has brought new meaning and perspective in your life. I lost my brother in law to this exact diagnosis of cancer 4 years ago, and I myself was brought new meaning and perspective on my outlook towards life since then. He was only 26 years of age as he lost his battle. I for one will say that I can understand exactly what it is you feel as you hear these lyrics stir up all sorts of emotions as they are sang. Most of the songs that I have seen live since his passing have brought up all kinds of emotions in me. And I will say that I was never the same again after that Inside Job performance with Steve Gleason as well.  I am very glad you decided to share this with us, as reading your positive outcome has given me an overwhelming sensation that we are all right. Hope to see you in Wrigley as we will be there for both nights again this year as well. 

    Cheers! 
    Sorry to hear about your brother in law.  Eric Berry from the Chiefs is a HL survivor as well. He received an ESPY and talked about Honor and Legacy.  As we we go through our treatments we become a part of a community.  We honor the ones that have gone before us and celebrate the legacy they left behind.  Cheers to your family.  Cancer sucks.  
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