More than One Way to Beat Cancer: David Bowie 1947-2016

First of all, don’t worry – this blog is not turning in to a celebrity news site.  But the news of David Bowie’s passing is a story not so much about a celebrity.  Instead it is one of the more amazing stories I have ever heard of a cancer patient beating cancer that should be inspirational to many in the cancer world.

David Bowie holds a special place in my heart, as I just mentioned in my post a few weeks ago WORLD IN MY EYES (FAVORITE POSTS OF 2015), the very first album (cassette) I bought – in 5th grade – before becoming a lifelong music collector was by David Bowie.  It is fitting that he continues to hold a special place in my heart by the way he died, as announced today.

Many Ways to Beat Cancer

There are many ways to beat cancer – beyond just the obvious one of being medically cured.  Unfortunately in the range of diagnoses, a medical cure is not always possible.  That opens up other ways to beat cancer.  David Bowie is one of the best examples I have ever seen of another way to beat cancer.

David Bowie was a consummate artist.  He was not simply a musician.  His entire life was a work of art.  Not only in his artistic creations but in his day-to-day living.  It was impossible to know where the art ended and his personal life began – because they were one and the same.

He kept his 18-month battle with cancer a secret.  Just 4 days ago he released his final video on his 69th birthday.  Was the video timed (as the entire world thought) to celebrate another year of life?  No it was timed for his personally known impending death.  The consummate artist was as always a step ahead of the rest of the world.

An excellent write-up of the clues to his impending death in that final video were written by the NME.  Quoting from that article: “Opening with a blindfolded, fragile-looking Bowie laying in bed. His first words “look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” are now obviously an admission of his ill health, rather than just a fantastical musing on mortality. It soon becomes obvious that the bed he’s in is a hospital one and Bowie begins to float above it, signifying his transmutation to the other side… another Bowie then appears, a Bowie clad in black and stood upright, a Bowie who can still pose, pout, pick up a pen and create. Inspiration hits him and he scrawls at speed in a notebook, while the other Bowie continues to convulse…”

Regardless of whether you are a fan of David Bowie’s music or not – this is an incredible act of beating cancer.  David Bowie used his cancer as a creative force channeled through his lifelong artistic vision.  He turned his death from cancer into yet another work of art, to spring onto an unsuspecting world like so many of his other career milestones throughout his life.  David Bowie’s career was one of constant reinvention, often in surprising and unsuspected ways.  This final transformation to the afterlife was his final signature artistic event.  An artist dying on his own terms, in a way that celebrated his own unique vision of life.  It was the furthest thing from being “beaten by cancer”.

Not all of us cancer survivors are international music superstars.  But we can take inspiration from David Bowie.  I hope as many of us as possible can be medically cured.  For those that can’t, we can beat cancer in many other ways.  By not allowing it to negatively change us.  To keep living the best life we can, on our own terms, for as physically long as we can.

The consummate artist has shown a path to beating cancer.  Although I am trying my hardest to be medically cured, if needed, his is an alternative path that I for one am also trying my hardest to follow.

David Bowie - Black Star

25 Comments on “More than One Way to Beat Cancer: David Bowie 1947-2016

  1. Tom, As always you write eloquently! What an inspiring way to look at his cancer. He was simply amazing, and I thank you for your tribute to him, but also your continued commitment to helping us all understand the cancer breast! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful post, Tom. I am having the most surreal day I think I’ve ever had. I was immediately devastated when I heard the news, then I realized David Bowie lived one of the most incredible lives ever, clearly on his terms, and he moved on in the same way. A truly amazing soul. I will miss him. Yet again, he’s managed to influence me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your thoughts are so true and chime with how I want to live my life. I was stage 4, underwent treatment with ‘curative intent’ and am now cancer free – but only too aware that I could get recurrence. While I wouldn’t choose to have gone through the last year it has given me a greater appreciation of the life I have – and if I have to go I would want to go like Bowie! (If only I had the talent!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your post, Tom. You are also a way “to keep living the best life we can”, as you said.
    Hugs from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe you are doing just that, Tom, through your blog and your other interactions with folks and your advocacy.

    Bowie has indeed given us much to respect and admire. This last act is especially inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yep. I agree if anyone ever says I lost a battle I am coming back and haunting them for all time. Really 5th grade. Making me feel old Tom. But that is a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are both inspirations to those fighting cancer. Thank you for your Tribute to Bowie. His musical influence will live long after his death.


  8. I love this post.
    I love how you address the fact that people are ignorantly saying that he ”lost his battle” with cancer. I have strong issues with this phrase being used for anyone but here more so than ever. He most defiantly did not loose his battle with cancer he simply won at life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are kindred souls in this regard – I hate the “Losing the battle with cancer” phrase too!! That was so widespread in the mainstream/non-cancer viewpoint coverage of David Bowie’s passing, I wanted to have my writing be one small counterbalance… 5,000 views later and counting – hopefully I am making small dent in at least individual lives. Unfortunately most of my media outlets and message boards are CRC (where the post was LOVED) but I had little exposure to other cancer subtype message areas where I think it would be similarly appreciated… Thank you for visiting my blog 🙂


      • I am glad your blog is getting so much traffic. More people need to know that the whole, ”lost battle” phrase is just utter stupidity (and realise just how fantastic Bowie was :P)
        I shared your post as much as I could in the breast cancer commuity and they loved it also.
        All the best to you x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I’m now getting hits from the melanoma & lung cancer communities as well. The message really is universal & I believe so needed. That plus spreading the word how awesome Bowie is 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, yes, yes! I was recently dx’ed with Stage IV cance. The one surefire way to cheat death is to make the most out of whatever time you have left.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Living your best life | Adventures in Spiritual Living

  11. I’m from the metastatic breast cancer world. I love your blog and your view of life. Thank you for keeping it optimistic. It IS how you live that’s important.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was sat here depressed about my cancer and after reading peoples replys im a happy bunny now…cancer? Stuff it going to have pudding at thye pub tomorrow and live well

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Еще один способ победить рак Дэвид Боуи 1947-2016 | Приключения_безнадежного_оптимиста

  14. Pingback: True Faith (FAVORITE POSTS OF 2016) | AdventuresInLivingTerminallyOptimistic

  15. Pingback: We Can Be Heroes | AdventuresInLivingTerminallyOptimistic

  16. Pingback: Cancer Survivors: Are They Heroes?

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