December 2012 Issue
Performers who participate in “A Christmas to Cure Cancer” share their stories.
In the December issue of Ohio Magazine
, you read about the musicians who band together to raise money for cancer research.
Here, two of them share their poignant stories and excepts from their songs, recorded for Volume 6 of “A Christmas to Cure Cancer.”
Joe Cygan, lead singer and guitarist for the pop punk rock quintet Hot Pink Racers, understands the poignancy behind the mission of “A Christmas to Cure Cancer”: His wife, former Columbus TV anchor Heather Pick, lost her battle with breast cancer in 2008 at age 38.
“Learning that Heather had breast cancer was as traumatic as it would be for anyone,” Cygan says. “But we also felt confident that we could beat it. We did everything we could to make Heather well and move on with our lives.”
And so they did.
Pick, Cygan recalls, focused on her blessings and the couple’s two children, Julia — now 11 — and Jack — now 8. She also gardened, walked several miles a day and participated in the Columbus Marathon. A clean bill of health appeared imminent.
But in 2004 — as the five-year-mark for a cancer-free diagnosis approached — Pick learned that the disease had returned.
“The first time was hard, the second time was excruciating,” Cygan says. “We started to understand that the recurrence was not treatable in the same way. It was not something that you could easily fix.”
As Cygan sings John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” and “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight)" by the Ramones, he reflects on the magic of the music.
“Music has the power to help people heal,” he says. “For me, the songs on ‘A Cure for Cancer’ capture more than memorializing anyone. They are not downers. They make you feel good — and that’s really exciting.”
Click below to hear an excerpt of “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” by the Hot Pink Racers
Rose Elizabeth Sepulveda believed in her daughter’s dreams and gave her the confidence to pursue them.
So it’s no wonder that Rachel Sepulveda thought of her mother while performing on “A Christmas to Cure Cancer.”
Rose lost her 10-year-battle with breast cancer two years ago, and the grief is still fresh.
“Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44 when I was a junior in high school,” Sepulveda, 27, says. “Her heart was set on me going to the best college that I could get into, and she didn’t want me to worry about her. She didn’t tell me how serious it was.
“As my life was growing,” the Capital University graduate adds, “my mother’s condition was deteriorating. It was heart-breaking.”
Sepulveda, who directs the vocal music program at the Arts & College Preparatory Academy public community high school in Columbus, and teaches master classes at the Lincoln Theatre Jazz Academy, believes in the uplifting notes the genre of jazz elicits.
“The music allows so much freedom of expression,” she explains. “You can learn a song and then make it your own through interpretation.”
And that’s exactly what Sepulveda did with “Liz & Ralph & Calvin,” a light-hearted homage to favorite designers first performed by jazz singer Blossom Dearie.
Sepulveda hopes her presence on the CD resounds with optimism and hope.
“I want to remind people to get as much joy out of life as you possibly can because it is so brief,” she says.
Click below to hear an excerpt of “Liz & Ralph & Calvin” by Rachel Sepulveda & Friends: