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Andy Fraser on his battle with AIDS & Cancer

andy fraser
andy fraser

One doesn’t realize how absolutely wonderful it is feeling normal until one has been one T-cell away from gone. Having come back from surviving AIDS – usually you are put on Medications when your viral load is over 10,000, mine was 4.3 million - and had the Dr’s climbing the walls, ‘cos this was before the recent cocktails, that work. Allow one to maintain that is.

During this period I beat cancer 32 times – Kaposi Sarcoma, the kind that comes w / AIDS. Dark spots all over body. The good thing about that is, one can see it early and get treatment before in gets to the inner organs. I sort of took it in stride, and said OK what do we need to do about this. Only when it got on my face did I start taking it personal, showing I am still as vain as the next person. My strongest memories were having a good laugh with the Radiation techs, and passing this woman outside the front door, smoking a cigarette through a hole in her throat. !@#$% Get a clue lady.

Though the worst of it was terrible neck pain, which after surgery didn’t go away for 3 years. Every day I had to come up with a good reason not to off myself, and would fight thru’ negativity, having a sauna every day, and whatever it took to get me going again. Turned out to be incorrect medication, creating tensed muscles impinging on nerves down my spine. My arms and legs would go numb, thought I would never play bass again, and my feet would feel like they were a bucket of ice, while I was sweating away on an exercise bike. My face would go numb up to the nose feeling a bit like a cocaine freeze. Not recommended

Peripheral Neuropathy. What a lot of Diabetics suffer. Some very expensive treatment, monthly IVIG’s (intra venous immoglobulin) at $5,000 a shot, and I turned the corner.

After going to Physical Therapy, and learning how to strengthen upper body, I made a pledge to just get myself back together. At first it was a six-hour ritual. Moving slowing, through the gym, floor exercises, walking, cardio on the bike, even got myself a hoola-hoop and relived some child-hood moments – great exercise. Sit-ups in-between each one, and swimming.

It was an all-day affair, but that was my priority. Got it down now to 2-3 hrs. and I do business, email etc. in between. Had to get very disciplined about nutrition. First had to learn what is good or bad, and stick to it. Now I can’t eat anything that doesn’t have nutritional value. Ughh – tastes like cardboard! Disciplined about getting enough sleep, water, even about not over-working which I have a tendency to do.

When one in so low physically that no amount of fame, fortune, fancy cars, friends, family or even doctors can help, one is left with, “well if everything has no value now, what is left?” It’s then that one starts reflecting on God, and one’s place in the Universe. Values change right quick. Having overcome the self denial of being gay, then the public aspect of it, and I have to say I was paralyzed by the thought of being ‘outed’, and just generally how do I go from being married to a wonderful woman, with 2 incredible daughters to being “gay, was a mountain I couldn’t see the other side of.

One can’t go on stage and be comfortable in one’s own skin unless you are prepared to stand naked. I had to get to that place. That’s why being closeted is so unhealthy. Having got past that I feel unburdened. No reporter is gonna follow me around and catch me in a lie. Now, I’m no fun for them, so no big deal.

I had to also come to the place where I could say “this is my life. I am living it for me, not you. I dealt with it, now you deal with it” even if nobody in the world likes me anymore. You have to like yourself to be a productive, giving person. Can’t live a lie. I am a very up-front person, and that was a total inconsistency.

Feel I have been given a second chance, and I don’t have a moment to waste.

The “Naked… and Finally Free” album was a kind of ‘coming out’ personal statement, and the new album “On Assignment” is like “OK, you’ve got that off your chest, time to look outward. Be more socially and politically aware, and use this platform I have to add my contribution.

Life has taken an unexpected turn, where now I find myself running a Label,

Mctrax.com, signing other acts, the first being TOBI, who is in for a long career, dealing with video budgets, making our first movie, thru’ MctraxMotion; check trailer Tearsofamermaid.com and wishing for 36 hours in each day.

Need to make a difference in some small way, make my contribution, so my time on this planet hasn’t been a waste, and I am worthy for the next.

Andy Fraser was writing exclusively for ABLE2UK and is touring the UK this summer.