Hank Erwin vs Cancer
Organized by: Hank Erwin
UPDATE: First off...I am beside myself with gratitude for all the help given to me. I was given generous amounts by family, old friends, new friends, fans, people I barely know, and a very surprising amount by people who I've never met or talked to in my life.
This kind of generosity leaves me feeling a bit dumbfounded.
As of writing this I am 8 dates into my tour and I simply would not be here if it wasn't for all your help. I actually don’t know how to thank you.
I wanted to thank you all so much that trying to figure out how to do it was starting to overwhelm me and stress me out, so I just set it aside. This still feels unsatisfactory but better than nothing.
It's been a tough tour. Billy the Van's front passenger brake was smoking as I left Austin, apparently the caliper is sticking and needs to be replaced but I haven't the time or energy to do it myself or the money to have a shop do it. Now I'm just having to brake real lightly. It hasn’t been smoking for a while. Maybe there’ll be some smoke if I make it to Colorado.
In Amarillo, my head was so dizzy I could barely stand up or see the crowd through the dreamlike tunnel vision I was experiencing. I made a post on facebook that most people seemed to misinterpret, thinking I was vomiting a lot.
I guess I didn't want to say I was having severe diarrhea on Facebook. I didn't want to say it was so bad that I nicknamed my butthole "old faithful" after the famous Yellowstone geyser - what kind of crude hillbilly would put that kind of information on public social media? Some people’s kids.
I slept in the van and in the morning I drove to the medical center on the other side of town where I waited in line with all the other homeless people.
I say "other" homeless people because I technically am homeless right now. I live in my van and all my stuff is in storage. I feel like there's still a difference between me and them but while I sat around waiting with and talking to them I began to see there's less of a difference than I would have thought. The main one being: many of them were veterans. I’ve started to think their histories probably aren’t that different from mine. I also noticed that my judgement of them has vanished.
The medical center didn't do blood work until the next day, so they sent me to the emergency room. There, I discovered there was an urgent care that would be cheaper. Urgent care led me to a room to wait for the doctor, where I fell fast asleep.
They took blood and the doctor took her time to talk to me. I was too exhausted to say much so I just asked her: "Do you think I should cancel the tour?"
Through her soft, pleasant smile, she said "No. Doing what you love is probably the best medicine right now." Dammit, doc. Bravo.
She will go down in my history as one of the short lived but entirely necessary characters like Frodo encountered on his journey - just there for the little kick in the pants to remind me of what the hell I’m doing out here.
Short on money but unable to sleep in the hot van during my day off, I found the cheapest hotel I could find. Word of advice: never get the cheapest hotel you can find in Amarillo. Spend a couple more dollars, even if you have to ask for the money through a crowd funding campaign. I’ve identified for many years by the Pure Prairie League lyric “When you’re a jazzman you get easy to please.” This place didn’t please me.
Blood came back fine. Just my blood sugar and electrolytes were low, even though I’d been eating and drinking what I thought was enough. Basically I have to eat constantly and drink constantly, which gets expensive on the road. And I think I’m gaining weight.
By the time I got to my double nighter in Taos, I found out the hotel I was playing at didn’t have any more rooms and the deal they offered in the contract they sent me for a discounted room at a nearby hotel was no longer valid due to a change in management.
Having the same issue with the heat in the van, I had to find the cheapest hotel in Taos for two nights. Fortunately cheap hotels in Taos are exceptionally nicer than cheap hotels in Amarillo. Unfortunately they’re almost triple the cost. The gigs in Taos didn’t even pay. Just tips and merch sales which didn’t earn much, even though I did play well and the crowd was very engaged.
In Jerome, AZ I crashed before the end of my three hour gig. I hadn’t eaten enough that day. The bar didn’t have food and everything else was closed in the small mining ghost town. With 45 minutes to go, I asked the audience “Does anyone have a snack of any sorts?” A man’s arm appeared through the stage lights, handing me a granola bar. I took a knee and inhaled it. Some of it was inhaled literally and I coughed a lot during the next couple songs.
It’s been incredible to be in Arizona. The warm company of some of my favorite old friends, a spare bedroom near a saltwater pool on a mountainside, in a house I helped build ten years ago, are proving to be some of the best ingredients for recovery I’ve found yet.
Feeling refreshed and energized after a couple hours hanging out and catching up with a dear old buddy and former pink treehouse roommate, I decided to drop down and do ten pushups while he ran an errand. I sat down on his couch and promptly passed out. Not up for that kind of activity yet.
I wish I could stay here longer but this brings me to my next dilemma.
I’m realizing I need to just lay low and recover/adjust, but I feel the need to play more gigs because I need the money. I still want to play gigs, but...I’m torn.
So....with the encouragement from the best support system I can fathom, I’m swallowing my pride and asking for some more money.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not quite in the dire straights I was when I first launched this, but all those funds were spent immediately as they came in.
I love you all and I can pretty safely say that considering everything...I’m feeling pretty happy :)
THE OLD POST:
As many of you now know, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer on May 8th and had my thyroid removed a week later, May 15th. This threw a pretty serious monkey wrench in the preparations for my summer tour, which I'm scheduled to leave for June 15th. Recovery is kicking my ass much more than I hoped it would and my inability to work these past few weeks got me quickly behind with finances and a little anxious. Maybe a little more than a little anxious. I'm behind on rent, insanely behind on tour preparations (everything from vehicle maintenance, to insurance, to buying a new storage unit and moving everything into it), to bills....hell, I have huge holes in all my jeans.
Doing a quick, rough tally, the totals just came up to over $3,000. This whole thing still feels strange to me.
I'm learning much about the thyroid and what mine used to do for me. It controlled mood, hormones, and metabolism. While it's known as a "good" cancer to have, in that it's very treatable, it's also one of the only cancers that you have to treat every day for the rest of your life. I'm 34 years old and I have lived a very spontaneous life as long as I can remember. Taking a pill at the same time every day, on an empty stomach, and waiting an hour before eating has been quite the adjustment for me already and will continue to be while I'm on tour. For those of you that don't know, I'm a singer-songwriter who quit the merchant marines to do this for a living - not a financially wise decision to begin with. But this is life and life is short...sometimes you realize just how short it might be. I lost my father to cancer one day shy of 15 years before the day I was diagnosed.
But I am feeling optimistic! Healing, though slow, is progressing. So god willing and the creek don't rise and my calcium levels don't drop, I'll be playing soon in a town near you!