My Journey with Mike
by Jules Jones Peters 2013
I’m sat on a train whizzing through the English countryside, on my way to the BIg Country Forum show in London and reflecting on the fact that it is June 1st 2013 already!
It seems to be a time of reflection after reading Steve Fulton’s wonderful piece about The Alarm’s first visit to the USA, 30 years ago today http://thealarm.com/archives/19749
Can it really be that long ago? I’m sure all of us reading this still feel like kids with the music driving us on in our middle youth! Mike and I will have been married for 25 years in August, after meeting in those heady days of 1986! It’s still heady (!) and the hardest working man in Rock seems to be more fired up than ever. I”m not sure if it’s because we live every day with Leukaemia (as Mike has always been very driven), but I do sense an extra urgency about him as you’d expect when each day is a gift, like it is for Mike.
As the yellow fields whizz by I reflect on what our life has been like living with cancer. Well, there have been the scary, belly in the mouth times, that’s for sure. When the palms of the hands are sweating, the heart is pumping as you await another set of results and wonder ‘Will everything be ok?’ However there have also been the incredible silver lining highs when ‘everything is perfect’ and we are given another chance to run carefree and without worry for another 3 months. That’s how it works for Mike and I…. three month cycles…. I probably find it tougher to deal with than Mike. In the days leading up to Mike’s check-up at Bangor Hospital, under the watchful and caring eye of Dr Edwards, I feel coiled up with a private fear. My nearest and dearest probably sense my distraction (Thanks y’all ;0) and try and soothe me through the troubled waters and as we walk through the door of Dr Edwards’s room, I feel physically sick. It doesn’t help that Dr Edwards always looks like he has bad news ;0) but in all fairness, he has been like that since 1995, on that fateful day when Mike and I walked like teenagers hand in hand into Glan Clwyd Hospital, thinking we were dealing with an allergy which would explain the lumps and the night sweats away. Dr E was grim-faced that day, bless him, when Mike refused treatment and we set off to play an acoustic show in South Shields (an even grimmer day for me!) Trying to hold it all together when you feel like the world is tumbling down around your ears is dreadful. Mike however was incredible. Chin up, don’t worry. Everything will be fine. It brings tears to my eyes when I reflect how strong Mike remains through all the ups and downs which can sometimes trivialise the leukaemia. Mike makes it much easier to live with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and I think his brave personality comes through so clearly when you read his diary from 1983, as I did last night. His positive energy is infectious. When you read the diary, you drink in the essence of Mike. His enthusiasm and love of life. Writing the songs, performing the songs, devising new intro tapes, driving the van, writing postcards to the fans back home..
After our first date, (The Downtown, Rhyl, August 15th, 1986), I visited Mike at his parent’s house (The Paragon, Prestatyn High St) and my first early memory of Mike was sitting on the floor, surrounded by a tonne of fan mail, which he was diligently answering. He has always cared deeply about the Fanbase and even to this day after 22 Years of MPO, he visits MPO HQ to diligently autograph all requests from the Alarm community around the world.
Today, we are closing the European Journey of Big Country at the Forum in London and then we speed back to Wales overnight for Mike to have his Rituximab treatment tomorrow. Over the last few months, Mike’s white blood count has risen and there have been a few heart in the mouth moments, especially when Mike was very poorly during the recent Alarm Tour in February. During those dark days, Mike made no fuss, no drama…. just hunkered down in his bunk on the Sleeper Bus and rested up under the watchful eye of the Alarm band and crew. (Thank you, guys… )Mike always seems to have the faith that he will pull through and pull through he did. The show did go on!
It has now been decided to put Mike back on treatment and so tomorrow I”m sure will be another tense day. The treatment involves a day of intravenous drugs, lying on a bed in the ward with all the other cancer patients where our journey began in 2005 when it was discovered that Mike actually had leukaemia and not non-hodgkins lymphoma (as originally thought back in 1995. Living with cancer is a continuing journey and this is why Love Hope Strength means so much to both of us. You, The Alarm family have strengthened us in times of sorrow and comforted us through our times of joy, of which there have been many thankfully! :o) In a funny kind of way, CLL has in some ways enhanced our life, given us strength and purpose and has certainly ruled out any chance of a midlife crisis as there’s no time! Maybe, one day Mike will need a transplant but for now, touch wood, Mike is responding well to the Rituximab, so each day at a time.
On Weds, Mike flies out to NY for a 3 month tour of America, his beloved second home and I take comfort that he is still rocking’ in the free world, doing what he loves most… playing his guitar. He’s a very lucky guy.
Sadly, not a week goes by when I don’t receive a frightened email from someone who has been recently diagnosed with cancer and from MPO/LHS, we reach out and try and offer love hope strength. Prayers go out to the Collins Family in Lockerbie and Stevie who sadly lost his battle. Love Hope Strength wrist bands are on their way and a specially recorded acoustic version of ‘In a Big Country’ to play in Stevie’s memory after a 6 week battle with cancer.
So on Tuesday, after Mike’s treatment, we will be driving straight back to London to rally the troops and try and sign up as many MP’s as we can onto the international donor registry. Thanks to all the Love Hope Strength volunteers who are swabbing MP’s at Parliament on Tues and at the Levellers/Big Country/Alarm shows this year. Together, we are really helping to make a difference with over 1000 people registered in the UK in the first half of this year. With all the Levellers concerts coming up in the UK and BIg Country concerts in the USA plus MP/ALarm shows, we are always looking for Volunteers so if you would like to know more about what is involved please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, in reflection, my palms may be sticky in the morning, the heart may be beating a little faster but as Mike sings “It’s alright, it’s ok… we can make it through…” and tomorrow the Journey will continue… Thanks for reading.
Love hope and strength,
Jules Jones Peters X
Photograph Taken in Bremen – Big Country Journey Tour May 29th 2013