The Genesis: The start of One Less Tear
Not Your Ordinary Day
October 1998 – “Chuck, you’ve got nothing to worry about, just rest your voice and you’ll be fine,” assured his State College based Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialist.
Chuck Navasky was in trouble none-the-less; he was a singer and musician who played music out frequently. Then suddenly, mid-song, his voice began going hollow and trailing to nothing. His specialist wrote it off as throat nodules, a sort of callus that develops in some singers’ vocal chords from strain and over-use.
Once again he took the advice of a ‘so-called’ specialist and started speech therapy classes at Penn State University from November 1998 – July 1999.
Why, Why, Why???
The problem persisted, and in July 1999 he returned to the doctor, determined to have the nodules removed. The doctor finally gave in… convinced there was no problem, but figuring it was an easy $5000 to put in his pocket.
This surgery took place Monday July 26th, 1999. On Monday, August 2nd, 1999 – my doctor called me at work and told me he needed to see me because he found cancer during the surgery.
My wife (Jaye) and I, drove to my doctor’s office immediately. We waited for 1 hour in his waiting room before seeing him. Once we got in to see him, he explained that I had a small spot of Cancer on my false vocal cord. He gave me two hospitals to choose from where I could go to get surgery… Boston or Pittsburgh.
Being I only lived 2 hours from Pittsburgh, and had many friends in the Pittsburgh Area, I felt that was my best choice. So my State College doctor, made my appointment, sent me on my way, and to this day – has never called me even once, to see if I lived or died (nice guy huh).
“I was asking ‘Why, why, why?’ I never smoked or used drugs. I got cancer from second hand smoke while playing in bars.
ALIVE. Everything will be okay!
On August 5th 1999, I had the cancerous tumor removed by laser surgery in Pittsburgh. That morning my best friend, Joel Bock, drove to Pittsburgh to be with me, and also brought with him an incredible gift of hope…
My two good friends Donnie and Johnny Van Zant (Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special), sent a song they wrote called “Alive” for me. It was on a cassette tape, unrefined, untouched, but it had the most powerful message, and arrived at the perfect time. I listened to it for 2 hours straight before they took me to surgery… and it eased my heart, mind, and soul – that everything would be OK. ALIVE – would end up being the cornerstone song of the One Less Tear CD.
Just the Beginning
Because of the cancer being on the false vocal cord, I was informed it had a greater chance of spreading. On August 26th I endured a 5-Hour Neck Lumpectomy and the doctors removed 56 lymph nodes from me… leaving a scar under my throat from ear to ear.
After checking the lymph nodes and surrounding tissue, my doctors told me I was “All Clean”, and needed no additional treatments.
Although I asked them to treat me with radiation and chemo, they looked at me like I was the dumbest man on earth. And being one of the ‘dumbest men’ on earth, I listened to them… and took no treatments.
8 months later – the doctors found a stage 3 Un-Operable Tumor on my true vocal cord, it was the size of a nickel. At this point – the team of specialists realized that maybe they should have listened to one of the ‘dumbest men” on earth.”
Very few of them could look me in the eye as I walked out of the hospital that day. They also told me my chances of talking again were slim, and signing was absolutely out of the question.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands with treatments. I went to the Altoona Cancer Center and got, two of the best doctors in the United States. They worked with me to plan a strategy that would help me beat this terrible demon.
In March of 2000, I started 7 weeks of grueling chemotherapy and 7 weeks of radiation. These treatments were at the center of the plan, but in the overall picture – they were just a small part of the reason I was able to overcome and defeat the Cancer.
During this trying time… Instead of sitting on my butt, feeling sorry for myself – I started writing songs that gave me the strength, hope, and motivation to be able to keep fighting through this nightmare.
Here is a classic from my treatments –
The radiation and the chemo made it impossible for me to swallow, I could eat very little, and not get much down. And each week my weight continued to drop.
About 3 weeks into the treatment, my doctors told me they would have to insert a feeding tube into my stomach to give me the nourishment I would need to fight.
But I remembered this… After coming home – back in August of 1999 from my lumpectomy – my daughter who at the time was 6 years old was afraid to come near me because of the hundreds of stitches that made me look like a monster.
Remembering how my daughter reacted to that, I decided that I was running the show… so each Monday, before I would get weighed-in, I would strap on ankle weights and wear baggy pants to get on the scale. The Nurses were thrilled that I wasn’t loosing any weight, by the last week of treatments I had 30 lbs. strapped to my legs, but most importantly to me – was the fact that I was able to avoid that feeding tube that would scare my daughter once again.
After my last weigh-in, I pulled my pants down to show all the nurses the weights that I wore, they were furious and said that was a very dumb thing to do – but I had to also remind them that I was one of the ‘dumbest men’ in the world… so that was ok..
After my long struggle, the Cancer was defeated by this combination I put together through treatments, the songs of hope and inspiration, my desire to be the boss and take over what was right for me… all of that when paired with a great attitude and the will to never give up – this Cancer had NO CHANCE.
I’ve donated to a lot of charitable organizations and have done a lot of small scale philanthropic ventures in my life, but after fighting the battle of my life… I needed to do more.