“When we let art out, we let love in.” K.R.Roberts
Many years ago, I spent my days pulling my hair out over the statistical analysis of clinical trials. Yep, you read that correctly. My life was steeped in randomised, double-blind placebo controlled studies. Don’t believe me? Check out this paper in the Journal of the American Heart Association. That’s the same Malini Parker as this one.
I worked for the University of Western Australia’s Department of Medicine and was surrounded by some of the finest minds in the world. Everyone was dedicated to unlocking the key to health, and our department’s focus was investigating the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and more specifically hypertension. My Masters thesis was titled, “Alcohol, Dietary Sodium and Blood Pressure Control in Treated Hypertensive Drinkers”. Fun stuff 🙂 Actually, in the rare moments I didn’t feel completely out of my depth, it was an exhilarating environment. I learned the discipline and rigour of the western scientific method.
And I NEVER believed any claims unless they were backed by hard science. Specifically: Randomised, double-blind placebo controlled studies.
My husband Greg was diagnosed with Stage IV renal cell carcinoma with metastases about 4 years ago. This meant he had terminal cancer that had started spreading and his prognosis was grim: six months, two years if he responded to the new chemotherapy.
But he confounded science and medical predictions and is still around today. Why?
Well, what I’m about to say would have been laughed out of the water by the old me. And by any of the hard core scientists reading this post.
I think that immersing himself in his creativity has kept him alive. I have no hard core science to back me up. No randomised double blind placebo controlled trial. I just have a hunch (we could re-frame it as ‘anecdotal evidence’ 🙂
Now, Greg was never the easiest person to live with. In an effort to explain Greg to me, Kathleen, his late mother once said , “you know, Malini, Greg has always danced to the tune of a different drum.” (in my head, I’m going, “HAH! Now THAT’S an understatement!)
So this guy wasn’t like most other people. When he was given a death sentence, Greg decided he was going to climb a mountain. And he did. He was pulled up it and nearly carried down it, but he did.
Then he decided he would stage another musical production. And he did. Then he did another and another. Each time it was hard, each time, it was painful. Each time it was an act of trust of each member of his beloved choir, New Era, to come to rehearsals and take direction from a very sick, ailing man, who at times, didn’t make a great deal of sense because of all the drugs he was on. But they did, and he did, and I think all this creative endeavour strengthened him, drove him and scared the cancer into being quiet.
And now nearly 4 years down the track…
He’s been told by his oncologist that the news is definitely not good, and there is not a lot of time left. So what’s he going to do?
He’s doing another show. Yes, it’s crazy. And organising it between hospital visits and holding a bucket for him has driven me a little crazy.
But I get it.
If cancer is having its way within, what better response can there be than letting his art find its way out…
So he’s doing another show, and we’re singing with him. And if he can’t sing, we’ll sing to him. And if he’s not able to be there, we’ll sing for him.
If you can get to Perth, Western Australia on March 22, we’d love to see you there 🙂
I wrote this post a few weeks ago, shortly after we first decided to stage the show. I’ve finally had a moment to post it, (between the round-the-clock care for Greg, who is now in a wheelchair, and rehearsals for the show) and now, only a few hours later, the show totally sold out! That’s nearly 900 seats … Then, the ABC television’s 7.30 Report contacted us wanting to do a story on Greg! Many hours of interviews and filming later, it aired on March 21st, the eve of the concert. You can watch the lovely segment here.