The Fighting Spirit

Posted: December 23, 2013 in Interviews
Tags: , , ,

Chris Shapiro
December 2013

glenn symmonds II

Glenn Symmonds. Drummer, songwriter, father and cancer survivor.

There’s something special about a concert.  The live energy the music creates as it connects with the crowd as well as the synergy of the members of the band who create it causes a spiritual, almost magical effect, one where the human soul can be expressed.

The men and women who perform on a stage and create this effect are heroes.  They put a song in the heart of the weary by sharing their love of music.  Not only can their song serve as inspiration to the lives of others but also the way they face life and overcome  life’s twists and turns.

Such is the case with Glenn Symmonds, Eddie Money’s drummer of over twenty years, a recent cancer survivor and whose battle serves as an inspiration for any facing similar circumstance.

Symmonds recently performed with Money and his band at Tangiers in Akron, Ohio where I had a chance to sit down and talk with him.

“I remember the date exactly, January 19th,” Symmonds recalled in regards to when the first symptoms of his cancer were noticed.  “We were playing in Austin, Texas and after the show I went into the dressing room to take a leak and it was bright red.  It scared the hell out of me.  I freaked out.”

Once back at the hotel, and after using the restroom a second time, he found a “white, fleshy material” floating in the toilet.  He addressed his band mates about the discovery but they assured him it was nothing but a premature kidney stone.

 “And I went, ‘oh is that it’ so I didn’t think anything of it,” Symmonds said.

Three months later the problem returned.  “I keep thinking ‘it’s going to go away’ but it doesn’t,” Symmonds said.

Finally after too many reoccurrences, Symmonds took the advice of the people around him and he visited a doctor.

During an examination it was revealed to Symmonds that he had a white cauliflower like structure growing on the walls of his bladder. 


“You’re not use to hearing cancer and your name in the same sentence.  And then he [the doctor] left the room and I sat there for about twenty minutes contemplating what I had just been told and started texting my girlfriend.  My life flashed before me and I was in shock,” Symmonds said thinking back to the moment.

Symmonds decided from the beginning that he was going to be proactive in curing himself of cancer.

“I didn’t want to just sit back and be a patient the does whatever the doctor says.  Of course I’m going to do that, but I had my side of it to fight as well,” Symmonds explained.

glenn symmondsHe took it upon himself to research his cancer and to find what natural methods, in addition to medical surgeries, would heal him. 

His research revealed a wealth of information for curing cancer.  This consisted of dietary changes such as cutting out all meats and going vegan as well as drinking daily vegetable juices and the use of hemp oil. 

“Juicing is key.  People call me from all over the world and they say, ‘get yourself a juicer and don’t get up in the morning and put coffee in your organs, in your body.  Put some green juice in there and wake those organs up with some vitamins and beautiful foods.’  And it made sense to me.  Then, I add the coffee,” Symmonds smiled.

Along with cutting out meats and daily juicing, sugar is another item Symmonds said needs to be eliminated from the diet.  “Cancer loves sugar.  It thrives on sugar.  Talking about cakes, pies everything that has sugar.”

In addition to dietary changes, Symmonds found that establishing a healthy PH level is an extremely important figure in the equation to curing cancer.

“Some people don’t understand this PH level thing.  It’s like when you have a swimming pool and you pay the guy to come in and clean the pool and he does the PH and gets all the chemicals right in your pool so you don’t get sick in it.  And it’s beautiful and clean and blue.  Now what if you didn’t pay that guy and he quit showing up.  Do you think you would want to go swimming about two years later in that pool if nothing was done to it? It would be black.  That’s like our bodies.  So if we clean up our PH level, cancer can’t survive,” Symmonds explained.

Following both the suggestions of his doctor and putting to practice his own discoveries, Symmonds approached his final surgery with a healthy confidence that he would be cured.

“About two weeks before my last surgery I just decided that I didn’t have cancer anymore. I just made up my mind.  I didn’t acknowledge it.  It wasn’t going to be a part of my vocabulary,” Symmonds said.

People would ask him how his cancer was to which Symmonds said he would reply with, “I don’t have cancer. Next topic.” 

It was a position Symmonds took where he kept himself in control of his situation rather than let cancer dictate his life.  In a sense, the cancer had no power over him because his will power and fighting spirit out grew the strength of the cancer.

Before the last operation, Symmonds’ girlfriend Tammy asked the doctor wear his “Beat Cancer Like a Drum” t-shirt while he performed the surgery. 

Glenn and Dr. Frank Albani before surgery.

Glenn and Dr. Frank Albani before surgery.

“Here’s this seventy year old man who’s at the top of his game wearing my t-shirt.  It was awesome.”  Symmonds laughed.

The operation proved successful.

“Now I’m in remission.  I’ve been back three months later and still in remission,” Symmonds said.

Symmonds acknowledged that he has, “to keep eating the right foods and keep doing those right things otherwise it could come back.”

Throughout the entire ordeal, Symmonds said that, “the love and support that I got from Facebook and people and friends around the world it’s unbelievable.  And then they set up this donation page and I watched money come in.  Just people I met one time were donating to me and it was just truly moving.”

Symmonds went on to say that, “having cancer has made me aware of everyone else who has cancer.  Maybe I was selfish in the past.  ‘Oh you got cancer, I’m sorry.’  But now, ‘you have cancer, tell me about it.  I want to hear it.  I want to help you.  Here’s what I did, maybe that might help you.’”

For those who have or know someone who has cancer Symmonds said there are three main points to remember and put to into use.

According to Symmonds the first is to, “get a loving support system around you.  Find people that you’re comfortable with and that love you and will help you.  That’s number one.”

“Number two, quit eating meat.  Stop eating meat and just start eating raw vegetables,” Symmonds said.

And as for the third point, Symmonds said, “And a strong mind.  Be strong.”

Another element that assisted Symmonds on his road to recovery was the fact that he is a musician.


From left to right: Tommy Girvin, Glenn Symmonds, Eddie Money, Chris Grove, Lee Beverly

“Music is a healer for me.  I listen to music and I feel good but I don’t listen to music all the time.  I go to music when I need it.  It’s like a medicine,” Symmonds said. 

From the time of his diagnosis to the time of his final surgery, Symmonds never missed a beat when it came to touring with Eddie Money.  He kept on the same schedule as the rest of the band with 4:30 am lobby calls and several shows every week.

“I wouldn’t be thinking about myself out on the road,” Symmonds said.  “And I would come home on Sunday night and I’d go, ‘wow I’m back home, that was fun, oh yeah I have cancer.”

Life of the road distracted Symmonds from his cancer.

“I totally forgot about it.  I could be normal and hang out with the guys and it got me out of my own little pity party,” Symmonds said.

When reflecting on the experience, Symmonds admits that stress was a factor in his personal battle with cancer.

“I’m very aware that stress played a big part in me getting cancer.  I believe it did.   I try not to have stress anymore,” Symmonds said.

Symmonds went on to say that, “anything that causes stress or doesn’t quite work out or the butting of the head you know, we human beings like to force things through, I just back off now.  If it’s not right, it’s not right.  And I’m more laid back.  I’m very appreciative of my life, and my health, and my talent and my girlfriend and other people.  And the key for me is to give back and talk to people and listen to people because everybody knows somebody who had cancer. Everybody.  And I think that’s the key.”

glennsSymmonds explained that cancer is a system of growth where the more of it the stronger it is.  But the people who have cancer in their lives are part of another system entirely separate from the cancer.  Theirs is a support system that reaches out through love and sincerity to honestly help those facing a similar battle.  If all those in the system contribute an input of love and help, the  system will build upon itself.  For those who have, they shall received from the system and for those who have had, they give.  In doing so, the system will amplify itself to a degree where the cancer will be drown out and both parties will grow stronger and healthier.  It’s a system sustained through the human spirit, something so influential and yet beautiful as music itself.

Symmonds is now a part of such system and it is far more strengthen as a result.

  1. Greg says:

    Man you are strong! Keep it up and see you here in CT in March.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s