Words by Sara Button
Cancer really sucks – there is no easy way of putting it. Dallas independent record label, Hand Drawn Records’ second annual Cancer Jam benefit takes place only weeks away, in Plano at the Courtyard Theatre on Friday, September 11, 2015. The event, hosted by local record label owner Dustin Blocker, was organized to honor a community member who has had their life uncertainly changed by the perils of cancer. The event celebrates life as well as raises money for the victim’s family and medical expenses.
During its inaugural year, Cancer Jam 2014 honored Carrollton native John Criss and raised more than $10,000 for his family after he had undergone an arduous treatment regimen. The benefit acoustic concert featured Texas rocker Andrew Tinker as well as Blocker’s roots-rock band Exit 380. Criss is currently in remission with Stage 4 lung cancer.
When Blocker and his business partners started making plans for the benefits sophomore show, he came about some life-shaking news. Before even having a date picked out, much less an honoree in mind, his mother Linda Blocker was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast, lymphatic, and bone cancer.
More than that, the global company Mrs. Blocker worked for filed bankruptcy in April 2015 and ultimately closed, leaving hundreds of DFW citizens without work, including herself. To say the very least, her financial situation is currently in extreme distress right now and she is currently undergoing her third and fourth rounds of vigorous chemo therapy.
“I feel incredibly blessed to be part of Cancer Jam,” Blocker shares. “I’ve been performing and in the ‘business’ of music for the last 16 years, and honestly, it feels like everything prior has led to this event. I think that as an artist, and as a person working for other artists, I can state that we all just want to do something that matters.”
Cancer Jam is more than a benefit concert, it is a celebration of life. Linda Blocker spent more than 30 years teaching music to children in public school before retiring in 2004 and teaching privately. Her love for music started way before that, though. At the ripe young age of 3, her twin sister and she began performing at churches, county fairs, and starring in local plays and musicals alike. Dustin shared that his entire family is chalk full of musicians, which ultimately influenced his career and livelihood as a musician and an independent record label owner.
During the 1960’s while Linda was in High School in Fort Worth, she indulged in a greater understanding for music and theater under the direction of her teacher at the time and now Senior Minister of Music at downtown Fort Worth’s First Christian, Charles Duke. Linda married in 1970 and started her family with husband Roger Blocker. The pair reared four children – David, Darell, Christi, & Dustin – who kept Linda home for just about a decade before she began her 30-year career as a music teacher.
Blocker and gang are shaking things up a bit this year, as this is a more profound experience for those involved in organizing. While there will still be music, refreshments, and celebrations aplenty, the music structure will be slightly different. After going through his mother’s record collection and pulling her favorites, Blocker decided that he wanted a more intimate approach to this year’s soiree. In addition to multiple musicians’ performances, there will be a house band type set through the evening, set to perform some of Mrs. Blocker’s favorite songs whiling giving homage to her beautiful life and contributions to our community.
The local lineup includes local artists set to play cataloged 60’s and 70’s tunes as soloists.
The emotional roller-coaster that entails braining a benefit event, hosting it not only once – but during the planning process of the second year, realizing that this directly hits home in an extremely personal way – can seem monumental.
“For me, this show truly matters. I feel like it will actually save her life.”
How can you help? Go to the show; you can buy tickets online here. There is also a GoFundMe account set up in Mrs. Linda Blocker’s name, with liberal donations coming in at more than $26,000 so far. Without the generous donations, Mrs. Blocker would not have her car or food on her table or a home to stay in right now. If you cannot make the concert, please feel free to donate directly via the link above. Further, you can find out more information about self-care from your local physician or you can even visit a local Planned Parenthood (while they are still around) for breast, ovarian, or cervical cancer screenings.
Most people’s lives are in some way affected by this horrible disease, whether it is your neighbor, a distant relative, or your own mother. It is important for our community to band together to take care of one another in times of need. More importantly, it is vital to raise awareness of this disease and ways to take care of yourself and also find preventative care, should that be an option.