The more we hear about Macklemore, the Macklemore we love him! LOLz!
While he was playing a show in Burlington, Mack heard from the friend of young man (a junior in college) who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Things have been rough for Sam, and his friend thought a visit from Mack would brighten his spirits!
Well guess what: Macklemore showed up and hung out with Sam, and took some pictures!
I went to visit a college student named Sam in the hospital today. Normally, I wouldn’t publicly address the experience, but one of Sam’s friends posted the pic on Reddit.com and it gained attention and an outpouring of support for Sam and his family. Several media outlets have hit me up asking why I picked Sam and what prompted the visit. Here’s my response.
We get a lot of emails from people. Whether it’s benefit shows or individual requests, there’s a ton of people that reach out. Most of the emails that we receive are from people or causes that we would love to volunteer our time and get involved with, but unfortunately our schedule is so crazy this year we barely have a spare hour to spend. But yesterday when my girl told me about Sam’s story and that we would have some free time on Thursday, it was a no-brainer to visit him in the hospital.
The email we received was from one of Sam’s friends who explained the situation. Sam is in his junior year in college, and up until last Friday his life was going great. He hadn’t been feeling well the last month, and went to the doctor to get some blood tests late last week. The doctors got the results, sat him down, told him he had leukemia and would immediately need to start chemotherapy in order to hopefully beat the disease. Just like that.
Sam’s story resonated with me. I can’t imagine being a healthy kid, at the end of my junior year in college, and getting diagnosed with leukemia. It’s one of those stories that reminds you how fragile life is, gives you a reality check on your own issues, and make you appreciate the health of you and your loved ones more than ever.
I learned that Sam is a big fan and that he was super bummed to miss the opportunity to go with his brother to our show. His friends that emailed us picked us up from the venue and we drove to the hospital to visit.
I’ve done these types of hospital visits before, and sometimes they can be a little awkward. What do you say to someone in Sam’s position? This is a complete stranger, who is going through a life-altering trauma, abruptly disconnected to the world they once knew. No amount of “you’ll get through this” pep talk seems substantial enough. You want to say something that might leave a lasting impression but the words aren’t there.
But when I first shook Sam’s hand I could tell he was connected. He’s the type of kid that immediately puts the room at ease. He makes eye contact and speaks from his heart, not sugarcoating what he’s going through, but not feeling sorry for himself either. He’s still adjusting to the news of his cancer and the reality of his new life. This tiny hospital room will be his home on and off for the next 2 years. An overflow of saturated shiny balloons occupies the corner, and the gigantic “Get Well Sam” card pinned to a wall gives the sterile room some vibrancy. A stack of DVDs lives just outside his arm’s reach, but he doesn’t have the energy to figure out how to get the DVD player working. We all talk. You listen. You try and put yourself in his position, imagine if you got that news about yourself or a loved one.
These types of experiences are important for me. They bring me back to a place of gratitude and give life a tangible value, beyond the instant gratification that my job provides. Being a rapper is one of the most narcissistic careers in the world. You are surrounded by yourself: interviews, Twitter, Facebook, Billboard charts, YouTube plays, shows, the crowds, awards etc. Fame suffocates the spirit and consumes you if you let it. You wake up thinking about you, and go to bed thinking about you. That’s not a good place to be.
With over 200 shows booked for the year, I barely get to see my family and spend time with the people that remind me where I come from and what’s really important. Getting outside of myself, even for an hour, and doing something like meeting Sam this afternoon gave me a small opportunity to be of service to someone else. I am able to realize that my problems are NOTHING compared to what him and his family are going through. And hopefully the visit made his day a little better and got him through another 24. That’s what matters in the end.
In all honesty, it’s the Sams of the world and the situations they go through that give us perspective on our own lives. Unfortunately, so often it takes a tragedy to wake us up and appreciate those closest to us. When we are faced with death, we immediately put a new found value on the life we’ve been given. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet Sam and his parents today. Made me feel like a real person. Beyond the music and the accolades, at the core that is what I want out of this life. To feel. And Sam reminded me of that.
Much love to him, his family and his friends.
Our heart goes out to Sam, his family, and his friends! The situation is awful — there's no getting around that. But it sounds like if anyone has the will to beat it, it's Sam.
Thanks for being such a caring dude, Macklemore. It shows in everything you do!
[Image via Sam's Friend/Imagur.]