May 4, 2020
“When everything is said and done with our situation, there will be a new normal… you just have to hold onto the things that bring joy to your life.” The wise advice from Dylan Hoey: Guitarist. Survivor.
Dylan has been playing guitar since 2001 when his 6th grade teacher, Mr. Taylor, shared his own interest with his class. “He always used to let me play first,” Dylan said, “and my interest with the instrument and music took off. Mr. Taylor even let me use his guitar until I got my own.”
Learning from videos online and other music mentors, Dylan taught himself to play, and continued his music journey through high school. A few weeks leading up to graduation, he started experiencing fatigue and back pain. The next few weeks were intense as his diagnosis, Selective T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, required an immediate course of action.
The mass on his left lung was producing fluid and was only functioning at 30%. The doctors wanted to biopsy the mass, but Dylan couldn’t lay down or be put to sleep, so they accessed the tumor while he was awake. “It was an ominous experience. The doctor marked my chest with an X, gave me an anesthetic, then took a metallic straw looking thing and accessed my chest. I still don’t know how they did everything without me feeling or seeing anything.” After the surgery, Dylan was prescribed a steroid that in 5 short days, shrunk the fist sized mass on his lung to nothing.
He spent 14 days in the hospital, was sent home, started chemo in Scarborough and managed to graduate with his class. His treatments carried on for 2.5 years, which included around 300 lumbar punctures. During his recovery, Dylan leaned heavily on his passion for playing and writing music.
“I was in a different state mentally when I received my diagnosis,” Dylan said, “it was such a big thing, I knew I had this giant mountain I had to climb. I knew I had to do what was needed to get through it. I couldn’t be sad because that would’ve been wasted energy I needed to heal myself. Music gave me a focus. When I listened to it, there was a strong connection to the emotion the musician was trying to instill. I used that energy to keep going.”
While Dylan was sick, he wasn’t able to practice as much so his ability changed. Guitar gave him a focus. He has become passionate about writing saying, “because I have the emotional fuel to write my own music.”
Navigating “new normals” was a large part of Dylan’s recovery and he shared this advice as the world is navigating their own new normals: “When everything is said and done with our situation, there will be a new normal… you just have to hold onto the things that bring joy to your life.”