September 5, 2009 8:20:00 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
"I''ve learned some things: Don''t ask, ''Why me?'' and don''t look a gift horse in the mouth," said Reed Andrews Monday, sitting immobile in a medical clinic in Tupelo, as he does eight hours a day, four days a week, while receiving chemotherapy.
What began in March as back pain led to an exhausting gamut of tests, doctors and hospital stays for the 43-year-old Columbus man. The eventual diagnosis of bone cancer was chilling.
The challenges have been daunting, but one thing Reed, his wife, Kelly (who is expecting), and their 4-year-old daughter, Mollie Kate, haven''t had to worry about is the uplifting support of friends, especially among the local community of musicians Reed''s been part of for years.
Music with a mission
On Saturday, Sept. 12, beginning at 2 p.m., groups including Reed''s C-City bandmates (Joey Atkins, Paul Hebert and Paul "Too Tall" Trimm), Swing Shift, the Dawn Barham Band, Big Joe Shelton, Finding Rebel and Sunburst will entertain at a community-wide benefit for their good friend at the American Legion Post 69 at 308 Chubby Drive in North Columbus.
Reed remarked, "Since I''ve been diagnosed, it''s just been overwhelming the people who have just stuck their own personal stuff aside to help. I''ll never be able to repay anybody for what they''ve done for me."
Repayment is the last thing C-City band member Hebert, like the rest of Reed''s friends, expect.
"People in all walks of life love him; everybody in town knows him as Big Reed," said Hebert of the 13-year employee of Columbus Rubber and Gasket Co. "We just want to do whatever we can for him."
Live entertainment, Jumpers'' inflatables, food, T-shirts and a vast assortment of prizes aren''t the only fun in store at the benefit. Guitars signed by Crossin Dixon and Eric Church, as well as a mandolin autographed by Ruby Jane Smith, are expected to be auctioned, said Trimm.
"It was a bomb, just like getting a bomb dropped on you," he recalled of first hearing the news of his buddy''s illness.
At press time, the expected entertainment schedule for Sept. 12, according to Trimm, is for C-City to open the benefit at 2 p.m., followed by Sunburst. Finding Rebel should play near 5 p.m. and Swing Shift about 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Big Joe Shelton will perform at intervals, and the Dawn Barham Band should go on near 8 p.m.
"Everyone playing is doing it for nothing," Trimm stated. "All money that comes in goes straight to help with Reed''s bills."
Hitting it hard
After three harrowing weeks in the hospital, Reed is back on an outpatient chemo regimen. He hasn''t worked since June.
"Kelly is six months pregnant and has been pulling 12-hour shifts at Tronox where she works," he said. "But when she wasn''t there, she''s been right here by my side every other second. I think if it wasn''t for her, I wouldn''t be here."
Aug. 28 brought hopeful news to the beleaguered family. Cautiously-optimistic doctors feel he''s currently in remission, Reed said.
"That''s a blessing, but I''m not gonna back up for nothing. I''ve still got to do eight more treatments. I''m just hitting it head on, hard as we can."
With audible emotion, he talks of his hopes of feeling up to sitting in with C-City at the benefit, especially of performing a song very special to him, particularly now -- "One More Day," by Diamond Rio.
"These guys are the best group of guys I''ve ever known in my life," he shares.
For C-City, the feeling is mutual.
"(After Reed got sick) we had to keep on with things we already had booked, but with him not standing right there in the middle, it''s just different, you know?" Trimm said. "We''re just looking forward to the day he''ll be able to play with us again."
For more information about the benefit, contact Trimm at 662-251-9601. The concert site on Chubby Drive can be accessed from Bluecutt Road or from Highway 45 North.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.