By Julie Anne Jacobs
If you had told country music star Wade Hayes that he would be singing the National Anthem at Auburn’s A-Day, he wouldn’t have believed you.
Why? In the fall of 2011, Hayes was delivered the news that he had stage four colon cancer.
“The prognosis was not good,” Hayes says. “They weren’t giving me much of a chance to live.”
Hayes knew something was not right, though, long before the first test results were received.
“I had felt really bad for about a year or so,” Hayes says. “After some tests, I discovered there was a tumor about the size of an orange in my large intestine.”
From the moment the diagnosis was given, Hayes committed to fighting the thing that was supposed to kill him.
“My first thought was, ‘how do I beat this, what do I need to do,’” Hayes states.
Along with chemotherapy, Hayes underwent a marathon surgery in December of 2011, removing over 20 inches of his large intestine, 60 to 75 percent of his liver, part of his diaphragm, his gallbladder and several lymph nodes.
“I made it exactly a year and the cancer came back.”
Throughout both bouts of cancer, Hayes had the same mindset. Keep moving forward.
“You don’t think about where you are at, you don’t think about the situation you are in, you think about a time when it’s behind you,” Hayes says. “You are already there, you are already through it, that’s what you think about. That’s what I did, I put my head down and I moved forward.”
Daydreaming acted as healing balm for Hayes, getting him through the roller coaster of hospital visits and medications. Daydreaming and music.
“I wrote a song called “Is It Already Time,” Hayes states. “It was very therapeutic.”
Admitting that during this time he had forgotten why he started music in the first place, Hayes rediscovered that purpose in an unlikely place.
“They were putting the needle in my chest and I heard this old Journey song that I liked as a kid,” Hayes says. “It took me away from that place for a second and I remembered how important music is. That was a learning experience for me. It made me want to work hard and make people feel something to help them, because it helped me.”
Now, three years later, Hayes recalls the words that his oncologist left him with as walked out of his office completely cancer-free. Words he carries with him to this day.
“He said, ‘I don’t know if you know this or not, but this is a big deal,’” Hayes says. “You need to go live your life.”
Those words stuck with Hayes so much so that he named his next album just that, “Go Live Your Life.”
A 20-year veteran of the country music scene, Hayes will sing the national anthem on Saturday as part of Auburn’s partnership with the Music and Miracles concert set for April 22.
“I am now three years past all of that and still completely cancer free,” Hayes says. “It’s unheard of. I am very fortunate and I thank God for it every day.”
A native of Bethel Acres, Okla., Hayes’ accomplishments include a number one song, “Old Enough to Know Better,” seven top ten tracks and two gold records.
“I want to thank everybody for their prayers and letting me hang around and play music some more,” Hayes states.
In addition to touring his new record and writing songs, Hayes says he will continue his work speaking to cancer advocacy organizations in hopes to help people in similar situations.
“I am just very thankful to still be around and will do my best to make the best of this second chance I have been given.”