"Believe me, you don't want this to happen to you," country singer says of battle with Stage IV Colon Cancer
Wade Hayes has seen it all career-wise. He moved to Nashville in the early 1990s with dreams of being a guitarist / harmony singer. Along the way, he signed a deal with Columbia Records that brought him hit records such as "Old Enough To Know Better" and "On a Good Night." And, his dreams of being a sideman were fulfilled with a stint in the band of longtime Alabama lead singer Randy Owen. So, Hayes knows to expect the unexpected. Still, last December brought some news that threw him for the ultimate loop.
"I was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer," Hayes tells Billboard. "Stage four means it had become mobile and had spread throughout my body. When we found out how far the disease had spread, the initial diagnosis was that I had a one in sixteen chance of survival."
However, with surgery and aggressive treatment, Hayes is alive to tell his story. "It was nothing short of a miracle," he says. "I thank God everyday that he saw fit to keep me around. Through a great team of surgeons at Vanderbilt in Nashville, they were able to get all of the cancer, which they had never considered going in. I heard they were high-fiving each other when they got done. It was a long surgery, and it was tough on me. But, I am currently cancer free. Obviously, it takes a long time to get over that, and there are a lot of secondary things and issues you have to deal with when you have cancer that severe."
It's a whole new world for the Oklahoma native, as he is learning one day at a time. "It's amazing what eating the right things will do for your weight. I must say that this is not a diet I would recommend. The one fear that we have now is it coming back. Once it spreads, there is always the chance of it coming back, so we're trying to combat it through diet and keeping a close eye on it."
Hayes talks about his experiences in his powerful new single, "Is It Already Time." Needless to say, it's personal. "It's pretty amazing. This song just kind of wrote itself. It's about me getting diagnosed, and every word of the song is true. It describes everything that was going on at the time. There's the opening line, 'We'll know something Thursday.' That's what the doctor had said to me. I didn't know what to do with it when it was finished. It was just something that I therapeutically had to do. I played it for a couple of friends, and decided to do a little demo on it - just me and a couple of friends, and release it to raise awareness of getting tested early for colon cancer in partnership with the Colon Cancer Alliance," he said.
His friends in the industry had other ideas. "People who heard the song started to get involved, and it snowballed. They began to want to get involved, and it turned into a full blown session, with everybody donating their time. I just wanted to touch some people and let them know that this is a very serious and real thing. I know the song is heavy, but this is a very serious time in my life, and I would help anyone not to be in this position, because believe me, you don't want this to happen to you."
Hayes stresses that people get check-ups. "The key to it is catching the disease early. Colon Cancer is one of the leading killers in the United States for men and women, but it's also one of the most treatable if you catch it early enough. I ignored my symptoms, and just attributed them to something else until it was too late. I certainly don't want that to happen to someone else. That's the reason for recording and releasing this song - to raise awareness, and try to get people to get tested earlier than I did."
In a unique twist, many of the people who worked Hayes' music and career for Columbia have re-teamed to bring publicity to the record, as well as to work it at radio - all just to help their friend. Hayes is touched by that fact. "That is one of the things that this ordeal has brought to my attention is how many friends I have in Nashville, and they are some lovely people. They have all stepped up to help me out with this, and have donated their time. It has really blown my mind. I had no idea what they were up to until a few days ago. Then, all of a sudden, things started happening and they wanted to get the song on the radio. I'm so thankful for them, and can't believe what they are doing."
The single is also available at iTunes and Amazon, and also at www.WadeHayes.com.