FAIRFIELD — When Bruce Waelbrock was undergoing chemotherapy at NorthBay Healthcare, he brought his guitar.
The Fairfield resident would play tunes for other patients at the Cancer Center. He said music for him is the “healing vehicle.”
“Sharing music with anybody is a good thing,” he said. “. . . Guitar helps me cope with what’s going on.”
Waelbrock and his band entertained a room full of cancer survivors, Sunday, during Cancer Survivors Day at The Clubhouse at Rancho Solano. The event, organized by NorthBay Healthcare, featured a trio of survivors who shared their personal stories during the “Speaking from the Heart” segment.
Solano County resident Sandra Bolden said she couldn’t have beat breast cancer on her own. Although she has a biological family, she noted a group of others who understand the struggle.
“There’s a second family that gets me,” said Bolden, addressing the audience.
Emotion swept over Bolden as she started to speak about the fear and pain that came from having the disease.
“I had some good days and I had some cancer days, but I won’t complain,” said the mother of four.
“. . . All of my good days have outweighed my cancer days.”
Bolden read her own survivors’ poem dedicated to the late Maya Angelou, but beforehand she expressed gratitude toward the doctors and fellow cancer survivors who helped her through chemotherapy.
“You can’t be on this battlefield by yourself,” she said.
The American Cancer Society estimated that 232,670 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and about 40,000 will die from it.
Male breast cancer is an uncommon diagnosis but it’s out there, said NorthBay nurse Keni Horiuchi.
Solano County resident Kenneth Taylor learned he had it in 2008.
“I found the knot myself,” he said. “It felt like a hair being stuck to my T-shirt.”
Taylor eventually checked into the hospital but was told to wait and see if the lump went away. When it didn’t, a man who battled breast cancer himself encouraged Taylor to return to the hospital.
Taylor had a biopsy then a mastectomy on his left side. He went through chemotherapy and radiation therapy and had a mammogram performed on his other side.
He said doctors complimented his good attitude through it all.
“I thought, ‘I’m lucky.’ ” he said. “At the age of 68, I’ve never got a toothache.”
Now, he can relate to women when they are complaining about hot flashes and mammograms.
“It used to be, I had to get up and leave,” he said. “Now I can join in the conversation,” he said.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.