Island musician helps son raise money to fight cancer
One of the most terrifying parts of being a parent can be when your own child receives a diagnosis of cancer. What was at first thought to be a simple leg pain, turned out to be a malignant cancerous tumor for Robin Everett-McGuirl, the son of Ed McGuirl.
Robin was only 17 years old when an MRI revealed his left leg pains were not due to his athletic martial arts workout. A biopsy confi rmed bone cancer.
“The date of my son’s operation was November 30, 2000,” Ed McGuirl painstakingly remembers. A full year of alternate weeks of chemotherapy, three months spent in a wheel chair and six months of physical therapy followed.
Laura Clark, Robin’s stepmother, said the family stayed together and focused on getting through each day, one moment at a time.
“We made sure to keep up our good sense of humor by laughing,” she said. The family didn’t ask themselves, “Why me?” or “How could this have happened?” Instead, they concentrated on getting their son well. Ed listened very carefully to the direction of his sons’ doctor, Dr. Richard Terek, and became quite attentive to his son’s care.
Each evening, McGuirl would finish work and be at his son’s side at the Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence by 8 p.m.
“I slept many nights in a chair,” he said. McGuirl would check his son’s charts, confer with the nurses and alert them when his son’s IV was about to be depleted.
“I didn’t want my son to be awakened for the IV change,” Mc- Guirl said. “I wanted him to sleep through the night.”
During his treatment, Robin’s weight declined to 110 pounds, down from 165 pounds.
At the time of his son’s illness, McGuirl was a soccer coach. He used his training skills to help his son endure the yearlong illness and rebuild his life. Terek, an expert surgeon who specializes in the treatment of patients with osteogenic sarcoma and metastatic cancer, performed the grueling 11-hour surgery on Robin’s left leg at Rhode Island Hospital. He removed the cancerous part of Robin’s bone and “replaced it with a graft, a handful of plates and a pile of screws to hold the leg together.”
Once the operation was over, Robin was declared cancer free. Now, nearly 11 years later, Robin commented that “his leg still works” and to celebrate, he and his girlfriend, Jessica Pollak, are going to compete in a 100-mile race around Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada range on June 5.
Robin is 28 years old and works as a creative production manager at Blue Sky Group in Warwick. Robin graduated from North Kingston High School and later went on to attend the Community College of Rhode Island before transferring and graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Robin is dynamic and enjoys an active lifestyle. In addition to being an instructor in Japanese swordsmanship, Robin and his girlfriend have taken on the challenge of raising money for cancer research by biking in a 100-mile race around Lake Tahoe. The couple joined the Rhode Island branch of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and together are intent on raising $8,500 between the two of them for cancer research. The money raised will also help other families whose lives have been touched by cancer.
Robin’s motto is “Help me destroy cancer, because I hate it.” Along with Pollak, the couple spends many grueling hours daily in a gym working out on a stationary bike to prepare for the race. Each has almost raised at least 50 percent of their goal but need help in order to fulfill their obligation.
Robin’s dad is once again stepping in to assist his son. McGuirl is a well-known award-winning songwriter and string musician. Since 1995, McGuirl has been a member of the Rhode Island Songwriters Association. He has been performing his brand of blues, folk and Celtic music, either solo or together with his long-time music partner, Mike Fishman. The duo, known as Jimmytown Juke, will perform on Sunday, May 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church to help raise money for cancer research.
Admission is free, yet there is a voluntary donation of $10. Mc- Guirl’s last three CDs will be on sale — “Ides of Blue,” “Slowly Rollin” and “Old Maids of Galway” by the Greencastle Band, which is an updated remix of McGuirl’s 1981 Celtic music.
The opening music act will be McGuirl’s long-time friend Josh Schurman on guitar and slide guitar.
Robin and Pollak’s artwork will also be on sale. Laura Clark, together with Mary Meagher, will bake and donate their cupcake marvels for sale at the fundraiser. There will be door prizes as well as a CD raffle.
Of all the money raised by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 76 percent goes to cancer patient research. Families in need can receive funds to pay their medical expenses not covered by insurance. Travel expenses and hospital-parking fees are just some of the expenses covered at the patient’s discretion. Robin joined the Rhode Island branch of the foundation so the money raised will go to local people and local research.
To donate or find out more about Robin Everett-McGuirl’s training and his cause, log onto his Web page: pages.teamintraining.org/ri/ ambbr11/EverettMcGuirl#home.