There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
During my bout with cancer and its harsh treatments, two lifelines that got me through those painful and scary days and nights were my cat and my radio. I’ve been enamored with the radio since childhood, recalling like yesterday getting a bright blue transistor radio for my 10th birthday, and in my early teens, Grandpa Knudsen introducing me to a disc jockey at KGY radio station in Olympia, Washington, who showed me the intriguing electronics behind the music, and gave me an Elvin Bishop album. And as a young adult, I wanted to get into radio broadcasting, but that dream got lost in life’s demands and obligations.
I mostly turn on my radio to listen to KX FM, Laguna’s very own radio station. During those dark days of cancer, listening to the station’s shows spanning genres from bluegrass to alternative rock with my adorable cat companion, brawny Bobcat glued to my side was comforting.
Bobcat passed away two weeks before my cancer surgery. Convalescing without my cat pal brought a new level of misery to my situation. Listening to songs and behind-the-music stories told by radio hosts helped me to escape, but coping was much more difficult without a cat. After three months of mourning, I adopted Samantha Jo from the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter on April 2, 2021; just in time see me through my last chemo treatment and seven weeks of radiation. For the past year, we’ve been helping each other heal, as she came to me recovering from bladder stone surgery, which she had to undergo after being relinquished to the shelter.
A lot has changed since April of 2021. Back then, Samantha was skeptical of me; she was guarded and offered only intermittent affection. Today, she lounges on my desk as I work, prances along with me when I dance around the house, and snuggles next to me at night while I sleep.
When Samantha is anxious and fearful because of the noises made by blustery wind or crows hopping around on the roof, I ask Alexa to play “Calm my Cat” and the lullaby melodies put Samantha at ease. Music’s calming effects aren’t limited to just the human species.
Last spring it seemed I’d never feel good again. I was wishing for my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes to make their come-back, and I was wondering if I’d ever fit into my skinny jeans again, which were still baggy from so much weight loss.
What a difference time can make. After pulling through the agony of illness and loss with a little help from my radio and a sweet-faced kitty by my side, my long-lost dream came true. Two weeks ago, with styled short hair and wearing those skinny jeans that I can now barely zip, I co-hosted one of my favorite radio shows on KX FM, The Coast Highway Shuffle. For two hours, host Steve Reid played songs that I selected as we bantered about the powerful impact that music has on our lives.
And I couldn’t let living my dream slip by without playing a song about a cat. As “Tomcat”, a ditty about an old ring tailed tomcat who struts around town resounded in my headphones, my heart swelled with joy.
Music and cats. What a purrrfect way to rejoice!
If you missed the radio show, you can listen to the podcast! Listen to “Tomcat” by The Rooftop singers along with my entire playlist on: The Coast Highway Shuffle!
Glad things are going well for you and Samantha ! Hard earned by both of you.
Thank you, Mary! Cheers!
Your stories always touch my heart. Thank you again for opening up about your journey and sharing with all of us the mountains and valleys you have been through. Your truth and honesty is appreciated and I am sure helps others who may be going through similar experiences.
I would agree cats and music are both healing and fill us with joy. 🙂 That photograph of Samantha sprawled out with her belly exposed shows how much she loves and trusts you. I am so thankful you two found each other. It was meant to be.
Susan, thank you so much! I hope my journey is inspirational and gives others comfort and hope. Isn’t that one of the sweetest pictures of Samantha! I hope you are doing well.
Love the perfect recap of your journey the last 2 years . What a force you are . And during Covid .
On ward .. love auntie Rachel
Thank you! I couldn’t have done it without cats, music and FAMILY and FRIENDS! XOXO
What a rough time you have been through! I’m so glad that is now all over and you have recovered! And what fun to co-host the radio show! All the best to you and Samantha going forward!
It was SO fun! I loved knowing that a was making people smile with my songs. Many were from the 70s. Thank you, Leah! 🙂 I’m still reading your wonderful book. I’ve been all over the place with reading. I’ll start a book, then put it down and pick up another…
Are you saying you were catless when you started treatment? That must have really been hard. I must have missed something because I thought you had a few cats. Samantha is a beautiful girl like her Mama. I’m glad you are doing well now.
I had Bobcat when I was diagnosed on October 20, 2020; he passed January 15, 2021.
I’d had 3 chemo treatments by the time he passed. I had to get through surgery then two more chemo treatments with no kitty. The first time in 33 years I’d been without a cat. You must have missed my posts about the passing of my kitties. I did have three at one point. Topper passed in 2017, then Lexington in 2019, then Bobcat. I’d had several before them as well. Its so hard! I’m blessed to have Samantha. Thank you for your sweet compliment. And, yes, I’m so glad I’m cancer free and at the tail end of healing. Cheers!
Yes, I’m sorry about your cats. I try to keep up but I do miss a lot of posts from everyone I follow. I work a regular job plus my own business plus a German class. I do get too busy sometimes.
It’s hard to keep up! I don’t expect anyone to read all my posts. I’m grateful for any posts that you can read! And now you are all caught up! Thank you so much. 🙂
Loved your blog! Yes, music & animals are God’s gift for healing.
Very well put my friend. Thank you! xo
What a wonderful experience – how fun!!
It was a blast! An epic moment of my life. Thank you for reading!
Hugs from me and Samantha
I love this so much. The pictures tell such a poignant story. Love you and Samantha! Aren’t we survivors lucky!
Thank you, Marilyn, my dear friend and fellow survivor. xoxo
Omg Samantha’s Mohawk is so cute! You guys are beautiful <3
Awww, thank you, Jenna!
Pam – I admire you SOO much! Thank you for letting me and John into your life both the beauty and the hardship. You you man! ❤️❤️