Surviving cancer twice has given Wade Hayes a profound appreciation for life and a desire to give back to those who helped him through his battle with the disease. Fittingly, Hayes is pulling out the stops for the Country Hits Back concert benefiting Nashville’s Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, enlisting Miranda Lambert, Kix Brooks and Steve Wariner for the March 2nd show at the historic Franklin Theatre outside of Nashville.
“I give the glory to God and credit to Dr. [Jordan] Berlin and the staff at Vanderbilt for being alive today,” says Hayes, known for such hits as “Old Enough to Know Better,” “I’m Still Dancin’ With You,” “What I Meant to Say” and “The Day She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy).” “I am absolutely thrilled that Miranda, Kix and Steve are taking time out of their busy schedules to join us, and we’re looking forward to a great night of music for a cause that will always be near and dear to my heart.”
Supporting research efforts at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has become a priority for Hayes. He was only 42 when he was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in 2011. Though surgery and chemo eradicated the cancer, it returned a year later.
“It came back in my lymph nodes, near the original cancer site,” he says. “I had to take chemo for several months prior to surgery and then they did surgery again, opened me up nearly in the exact same spot, and got all the lymph nodes out that were affected. I’ve been cancer-free since.”
Though at one point he only had a 12 percent chance of survival, Hayes managed to beat the odds. “When I’d gotten through cancer the second time, my oncologist Dr. Berlin was talking about taking my port out. A port is something they implant into either your chest or under your arm where you receive chemotherapy,” Hayes explains. “Dr. Berlin said, ‘Wade, you were stage IV and now you’re cancer-free. We can take your port out. This is a big deal and I want to tell you something. I want you to go live your life.'”
That advice inspired Hayes to write the song “Go Live Your Life,” which became the title track of his current album.
These days the Oklahoma native is touring, writing new songs and advising others to be proactive when it comes to their health. “Get your ass to the doctor,” he said during a recent seminar, smiling as he encouraged folks to get a colonoscopy.
Tickets to Country Hits Back are available through the Franklin Theatre.