My name is Brian Hobbs…and I’m a cancer patient

I just had a major operation to remove one of my kidneys and the large tumor that was attached to it. Won’t bore you with the details, the heading pretty much says it.

When you’re somewhat incapacitated, as I have been most of this summer, you have plenty of time to ponder. I’ve spent a lot of time going to my “happy places” (revisiting people I have loved and places that have brought me joy). I also realized how thankful I am for so much.

My “happy places” consist of many childhood memories; so please bear with me while I list a few.

Staying with my Grandma Hobbs and being greeted with an ice-cold Co-cola. Her giving me a quarter and walking down to Mr. Paul’s store on Creek Road where I could get an orange popsicle, football, baseball or Batman cards, SweetTarts and Bazooka Joe bubble gum.

Staying with my Grandma and Granddaddy Meads and helping him in his garden, enjoying a dinner (read lunch…in the south at that time the daily meals consisted of breakfast, dinner and supper) with fried chicken, boiled greens and potatoes, cornbread, sweet tea, homemade biscuits, and if I was lucky, a piece of Grandma’s chocolate cake. Grandaddy always had peppermint chewing gum and we’d chew that after dinner and sit out in the swing in summer.

Visiting my father at Culpepper Motor Company on Elizabeth St. and looking at the new cars in the showroom. I especially loved Christmastime because there was a big aluminum tree there and a life-size Santa sitting in one of the chairs.

Friday nights at Granddaddy and Grandma Meads’ when most of my aunts, uncles and cousins came over and we heard stories from long ago out on the front porch with background sounds provided by frogs and crickets and the occasional car riding down Thunder Road with the radio on and windows down. Me and my cousins played until we were exhausted and covered in sweat. That’s when we’d come in and get a drink of cold water from a green pitcher filled with rainwater from inside my grandmother’s ancient Frigidaire.

Weekends at my parent’s place down on the Albemarle Sound where my imagination ran wild with images of pirates, Indians, damsels in distress and whatever other images I conjured up from the books I read. My mother would cook fried potatoes and green beans and daddy would grill burgers or pork chops. It was heavenly! When I got older I would drive down there alone with my high-school girlfriend (although “alone” is probably not the correct term). As live, walking contraceptives, we were always accompanied by my sister and at least 2-3 of my girlfriend’s younger siblings. It worked.

Saturday mornings when my mother and I were home alone and we would listen to music (an awful lot of Gershwin) while we cleaned.

My father teaching me to play golf.

Band trips…anything to do with the band.

Soft ice-cream from Nu-Quality in the summer.

Stopping in to see Grandma and Granddaddy Hobbs after church on Sunday nights and getting powdered donuts, another Co-cola and maybe a slice of plain cake with white icing.

Hearing my mother play piano or organ at church.

Christmas pageants.

Church picnics. Dinner on the grounds.

My parents taking me to Peter Nero concerts in Norfolk…

There are many other people and places that I have visited but that’s enough for now.


In addition to visiting my “happy places” I also started counting my blessings:

A devoted wife who has been with me through this whole ordeal, and in addition to taking excellent care of me, has also dealt with all the practicalities of insurance, doctors, phone calls, as well as my own ups and downs, etc.

My two boys, who have taken time out from their lives to help out at home and also kept me laughing.

A mother and father who are still there for me in every way.

A sister who has been extremely supportive and helped my mother and father help me.

Family on both sides of the Atlantic who have helped out and kept me in their thoughts and prayers.

Friends who have offered to help in any way they can, along with colleagues and former students who have showered me with love and good thoughts.

My main songwriting collaborators who continue to check in and inspire me. (I’m horribly afraid that one day they will find out they don’t need me).

The fact that I made it through major surgery and still ended up on this side of the dirt.

The fact that after only 3 weeks I’m relatively mobile and feeling as good as could be expected.

That I can listen to music again and that it moves me more than ever.

That I can see beauty and find joy where I never saw it before.

That “petty bullshit”, which somehow was incorrectly filed under “IMPORTANT” in my life has now been refiled under “PETTY BULLSHIT- deal with this later”.


All in all, I’m happy. Of course I wish I didn’t have cancer and I still don’t know what the outcome will be, but I’m positive, thoughtful and thankful. And my advice to everyone is this: take your moments and create “happy places” for yourself and people you love. Never forget that the most insignificant things you do (like giving someone a quarter to buy an orange popsicle on a hot summer day, or just spending time with someone) can be a lifetime memory for them. And don’t be afraid to turn around and look your mortality in the face. It’s the best way to remind yourself to keep “petty bullshit” in the right file. And most importantly, love each other and be kind.

Thanks for reading and please check out the rest of my site. And if you want to start being especially kind…download or stream my album, GENESIS OF WHO I AM.






39 thoughts on “My name is Brian Hobbs…and I’m a cancer patient

  1. You are so gifted. Add writer to the list and I am not talking about music. I loved reading this. Love you bunches and praying for you.

    1. Thanks Phyllis! Mama told me that you and James had come to visit. That was nice. They certainly think a lot of you and it means so much that you come and visit. Thanks for the kind words and for keeping me in your prayers! Give my best to all the Boyces and thanks for taking the time to read my blog and respond! Love, B.

  2. So sorry you are facing this battle. I know first hand what it is like. I also know that the prayers of those who love us works miraculously.
    It’s amazing how tragedy makes us learn what is important in life. This experience will change you forever ( in a good way).
    Stay strong cuz. You can beat this!!
    Love & prayers. Sundie

    1. Thanks Sundie! I appreciate you keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Thankfully things seem to be going the right way. Say hello to the Bisher crowd. Love, B.

  3. Tack för dina berättelser om dina happy places. Det är dessa vi alltid behöver i livets berg-och-dalbana. Stor kram till dej hoppas allt blir bra framöver. This kind of shit takes time. So enjoy some music have a nap and stay cool. Vi ses.

  4. Brian, we are the ones who are blessed to have people like you. I regularly read your posts on FB and admire you for the traveling you get to do and your musical talents. Keep it coming!

    1. Randy, I love reading your posts on Facebook. I think you bring a good perspective to what’s going on in this crazy world and our government. Thanks for all the kind words! Lots more music coming hopefully… and if you’re interested, check out the music of my friend Andreas Aleman. We write together and he is world-class. I think you’d like him. Be good and keep opening people’s minds and broadening their perspectives. B.

  5. I too enjoyed reading your article Brian. I totally agree. I too am a cancer survivor. My journey started back in 2012 with DCIS. Went through a lumpectomy and radiation. Then a different type breast cancer in 2015, triple negative. Had a double mastectomy and chemo. Then a recurrence and metastasis to the lungs in 2016. Pretty much on chemo of some type ever since, as there is no pill you can take and it’s pretty aggressive. I only say this to help encourage. You got this. Love life to the fullest and I thank God everyday for breathe. An old classmate, Cindy Williams Colclasure.

    1. Cindy, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. Sounds extremely tough. But happy that you’re still here and have the will and strength to fight! Thanks for the words of encouragement, it means a lot, and thanks for reading the blog and taking the time to respond. Keep in touch and please keep us updated on your situation. Best, Brian

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your piece, Brian. I don’t know you, but I grew up in Elizabeth City in the 1960s (graduated from NHS in 1971). The memories of those days have kept me going through a lot of times and I’m more grateful for them than I can ever say. I’m so happy for you that you have them, too! I moved back here last year because it’s my Happy Place, even though it’s a shadow of what it used to be. That’s okay. If there’s a heaven (and I have reason to believe there is!), it will be ECity in the days that made my childhood such a happy one, with all the people who were there – some who have passed over already and some who have not. Cancer must be a scary thing…but heaven will take all that fear and pain away. Enjoy your memories. Wrap yourself in them like a sweatshirt on a fall evening.

    1. Thanks Kathy! Memories are like a sweatshirt on a fall evening, great analogy! Thanks for checking in and reading the post. Yes, EC has changed but there are a lot of friendly ghosts still walking around there and as long as we keep our memories alive the EC we knew and loved will always exist.

  7. You may not know me, however I have enjoyed your music and my husband is Randy Boswood. I believe you may have graduated with his brother, Gary at Northeastern. We have enjoyed your music and sorry to hear that you had recent surgery to remove a kidney. Randy went through the same surgery back in 2013 and is doing well now. Keep the faith and we will keep you in our prayers.

    1. Hi Kim, I remember Gary and Randy. Good to hear that Randy came out of this kind of surgery OK. Please say hi to both of them. Thanks so much for checking in and the kind words. It means a lot! And thanks for listening to my music!

  8. Love you man, I’m glad you are doing better and I will join the others in praying for continued improvement and good news. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Dennis. You and your family have always meant so much to me. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts, it means a lot!

  9. My dearest Brian,

    I am soooo happy that you seem to be going in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see you as soon as possible. All the memories that I have with you, creating music together, laughing and being silly like only fellow musicians know how to, will forever be cherished in my heart. Love always / Monica

    1. Thank you Al! I just try to do something that seems to be somewhat of a mantra for you…breathe! Thanks for the reminder and kind words!

  10. Hi cuz. So glad that are doing so much better. Loved your comments–brought back great memories for me as well. We all had coke and cake with your granddaddy and grandma. Miss Uncle Charlie and Aunt Tinee. (sp) . Enjoy your happy place–I love my happy places with many great memories.

    I once read this quote that reminds me of you –“You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved. This is not the end of a bad story–it is the beginning of a beautiful one.”

    Glad you moved that mountain. Love You.

    1. Gary, I love that quote! Not sure about the showing others part…I just want to write and express what I’m going through and hope that somehow it helps someone else going through the same thing. Plus I know lots of people have it worse. I have a fighting chance and lots of people on my side and for that I’m grateful. You’ve always been supportive of me and I love you dearly!

  11. So sad to read some of this. So glad to know there are wonderful memories in your life and inspired to remember many in mine, too. So happy to know you are surrounded by so much love. And grateful that I call you my friend. (who still wants a lyric!)

    Much love,

    1. Skip, you had a bigger influence on me than you probably imagine. I am also grateful to call you friend and I am glad you are “shaming” me into sending you over a lyric LOL. I just might surprise you with one this time! Love, B.

  12. Brian,
    Hang in there, so happy you’re feeling stronger. Life is precious and so are our happy places. Hope to see you soon. I will send you some great healing music.
    Love ya bro!!!

  13. Hi Brian. You and I have never met but we share a great set of Meads and Whedbee genes. Just wanted you to know I really enjoy reading your posts that your mom shares. It is amazing to me the number of writers and musicians that came out of our ancestors! Thanks for the memories of growing up in a big family. Lots of love and prayers sent your way!

  14. Sorry to hear of your illness but God has this! Your blog was quite moving and brought back memories of a more simple time in life. I follow your beautiful music as well. I wish you all the best and a complete healing. You will be in my continued thoughts and prayers.

  15. Nu blev jag väldigt rörd, och fick en massa bra tankar, du skriver så fint!
    Tack för att du är du och att du är den du är. Jag tänker alltid på dig som Brian with the big heart, och vill tacka för den omtanke och respekt som du alltid har och visar de du möter. Du tar dig igenom det här, det är jag övertygad om. Du behövs på denna jord.
    Big hugs! Sending you vibrant, good energy!

  16. Hi Brian, I get touched by reading your words. It is so true that we need our happy places from where we can get strength and gratefulness. And also that we need to place some stuff in “not important” and just let go. For a hardworking person (me included) it can be hard to let things go, but it is good if we can. We never know what life’s gonna give us, so being openminded and enjoy what is possible to enjoy is great. Laughing with your sons seems very good good in that way!
    Keep on going that way Brian! Wish you all the best!

    // Eva

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