Stephen Feldman, a fellow chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) thriver since his diagnosis in 2014, has been playing the guitar since he was a kid. For him, singing and playing music have always provided a soothing and healing experience. Although his consistency with playing has waxed and waned over the years, the joy music offers have never wavered.
Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles is one of the first songs Stephen learned to play in its original entirety on the guitar. The song holds special meaning for him as the lyrics can transport the listener from “a long, cold, lonely winter” to a sunny and hopeful state of mind as the “ice is slowly melting.” Since his diagnosis of CLL, the song has come to take on an additional depth of significance. After three years of watch and wait, the prevalence of symptoms meant it was time to start treatment. In preparation, Stephen’s doctor told him that for another patient on the same therapy he was about to begin, their “CLL melted away,”; and the lyric “I feel that ice is slowly melting” couldn’t help but pop into his head.
Stephen’s Here Comes the Sun cover is not just about having fun and finding peace in the synergy of the guitar vibrations and vocals melting together; he sees it as an opportunity to alleviate the stigma of cancer. While Stephen came to terms with battling health challenges a long time ago through a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down, he knows that not all individuals facing a CLL diagnosis have found the same acceptance yet. Unlike being placed in a wheelchair that makes a disability visible, living with leukemia is an invisible impairment. Stephen hopes that sharing his journey will help those who aren’t yet ready to share their diagnosis find comfort, hope, and community.
CLL Society has become an organization of great importance as Stephen navigates his journey with CLL. As a member of CLL Society’s Patient Advisory Board, a Senior Support Group Facilitator, a speaker at educational events, and someone who has become a smart patient through the support and educational resources CLL Society offers, the organization is very near and dear to his heart. Another important goal of this video for Stephen is to raise awareness of the work of CLL Society so others touched by a diagnosis of CLL can become the same smart patient and find peace and acceptance with their diagnosis.
If you enjoyed his rendition of the classic Beatles song, Stephen asks for donations to be made to the CLL Society in place of dropping some cash in his guitar case.
You can read more about Stephen Feldman’s journey with CLL in his article, I Thought I was Pre-Disastered