Thursday, August 14, 2008

At the Beatles fan convention

I was at a Beatles fan convention in Chicago over the weekend.

The Fest for Beatles Fans has been in operation for 34 years, attracting fans from all over the world. I was there for a couple of reasons. My partner in Frozen Pictures, Burt Kearns, and I were screening The Seventh Python, our film about Neil Innes. Neil was there, too. He’s been a huge attraction at the fan fests because of his work with the Beatles and the Rutles.

And I was there with my brother Mark, as a Hudson Brother. Mark’s also been a Beatles Fest star because he produced and wrote with Ringo (we both were friends with John). And now that our Razzle Dazzle Show TV series from the Seventies is coming out on DVD, and we’re going to do a Hudson brothers reunion concert and film with our brother Bill, it was a weekend of signing autographs, jamming onstage, and telling stories.

Word had definitely spread among the fans about my year and The Klinik. I can’t tell you the amount of people who came up to me on that autograph line, and in the lobby, in the elevator, in the restaurant— even in the middle of the night in the parking lot when someone pulled a fire alarm at three in the morning-- to talk about my recovery. Well, I can tell you, and I will. It was a lot! So many people told me my story was inspirational. And everybody— everybody— had their own story. “My aunt had cancer... my brother had cancer... my daughter... my mother— I have cancer.”

One gentleman had the same type of cancer I had. He unfortunately had a big scar across his neck because he had the radiation treatments and the whole works. He, like me, beat it, but it made me feel bad because he should have at least had the option to try what I did. Even if it didn’t work, he could have had the operation, but he didn’t have the option.

He didn’t have the option.

That’s what I don’t understand about our medical system. And by “our,” I mean the American medical system.

My brother Mark was at my side the entire weekend. And he stayed close the entire time I was in Germany. He must have texted me twice a day, asking if there was anything he could do, making sure I was all right, praying for me, encouraging me. And it’s important to have that support system. My family, Mark and my brother Bill, my friends-- all that is so important to the healing process.

All this, from the time I learned I had cancer in August a year ago, led me to that Beatles fans convention over the weekend, sitting there signing autographs and standing up to pose for photos.

They say your life flashes before your eyes. Well it doesn’t flash. It passes before your eyes incredibly slowly. I don’t want to say I did a Bucket List, but my cancer did make me think of what was at the top of that list of what I’d like to do. And the first thing that flashed was playing one more time with my brothers Bill and Mark.

So here we are. And I have to thank all the people in Chicago who told me that they want to get involved and join this crusade.