In an extraordinarily rare turn of events, a husband and wife walk hand-in-hand through the painful challenges — and unexpected joys — of living with two different types of cancer
Christian Kidd was diagnosed with stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma in 2017. At the time, the guitar player of The Hates, a Texas-based punk-runk band, had already spent the past decade encouraging and nurturing his beloved wife, Alexis Kidd, as she navigated life with peritoneal mesothelioma.
Today, Christian and Alexis continue to support one another through their daily battles against cancer. Mesothelioma Hope sat down with Christian to learn what the local rock legend says about the impact of cancer on his daily life, the importance of tending to his mental health, and the realities of sharing devastating news with loved ones.
Mesothelioma Hope (MH): Alexis mentioned that her diagnosis was delivered right before your birthday party. What was that like for you?
Christian Kidd (CK): Alexis has always gone out of her way to make my birthdays special. The day we received the news about her mesothelioma diagnosis was the first one we ever spent together. I remember holding her hand in the doctor’s office and feeling so numb. I was amazed that she had it in her to make sure my birthday was so nice after being given this terrible news.
We had been dating for less than a year at that point, but I knew I wanted to be there for her. I just didn’t know what to do because everything seemed so impossible. All I did know was that I would never give up on her.
MH: You’re in a unique situation where you and your wife are each fighting against cancer. How do you support one another? What elements of this situation would people never realize unless you told them?
CK: When I was first diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma on the base of my tongue, I realized that I was more worried about Alexis than I was about myself. Even though she has not gone through any treatment for her mesothelioma for years, she has other health problems, like arrhythmia and kidney issues.
I was very lucky to have the benefit of her experience in my corner, but I sometimes felt like it wasn’t fair for her to have to take care of me, juggle all my medical appointments, take care of our animals, and work, too. But at the end of the day, it couldn’t have been any other way.
“My wife is always going to be there for me, and I’m honored to always be there for her. Look what we’ve already gone through together. We can make it through anything as long as we’re holding hands.”
We tried to be open and share some of my experiences on Facebook to keep friends and fans in the loop. Even though we sincerely appreciated the love and support we received through these updates, the sharing became difficult after a while. You can only reveal so much of what cancer treatment is like before it gets really depressing.
The worst part for me was when I ended up in the hospital for a week because chemotherapy and radiation therapy took so much out of me that I could not eat. That was one of the lowest parts of my life because my situation seemed so hopeless.
“As bad as it was, Alexis had already been there: the hospital, the pain, and the depression. She kept holding my hand until I was able to stand on my own again.”
I’m known for having a positive punk personality, which is unusual. Punk is all about the fury and rage against the way things are.
But I love to share about all the joys that I see in my everyday life, whether it’s music, my wife, my cats, the friendships I’m lucky enough to have, and the fact that I’m a Star Wars nerd — but I haven’t wanted to share much about the aftermath of some of the most impactful aspects of my life.
I lost my job. I have a hard time swallowing sometimes due to scarring in my throat. Most of what I eat is tasteless — except the sweet stuff. I’m grateful for the sweet stuff.
“I don’t know about other cancer survivors out there, but sometimes it feels like cancer took so much away from us that it’s hard to continue living through it. But people who don’t know what cancer is like don’t want to hear that, so we mostly keep those types of thoughts to ourselves.” —Christian Kidd
MH: What role does music play in relieving some of your anxieties?
CK: Music has always been very cathartic for me. Sometimes life’s daily pressures build up, but, after band practice on Thursdays, I’m back to my regular self again. I play my piano and guitar daily, and I even play a little harmonica. My weekly piano lesson is something I don’t want to miss — it’s intellectually stimulating, and I adore my piano teacher.
Of course, the very best is when I get to play a show in front of an audience. There’s nothing that erases stress like the energy I get from playing live music.
MH: How do you manage your own wellness and mental health?
CK: I have been minimally health-conscious for most of my life, but I never really drank alcohol or smoked. I have arthritis in both of my knees, which has taken a toll on the walking that my sweetheart and I used to love doing together, but we are figuring that out.
My oncologist is still very invested in my overall health, especially since we discovered I have inherited the BRCA (BReast CAncer) gene mutation and could be at higher risk for other cancers. He always reminds me to keep working on my music because my mental health is just as important as my physical health. It’s one of the things I appreciate most about him.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our social lives have been curbed, but I have always mostly been a homebody anyway. I love hanging out with Alexis, whether we are watching our favorite shows, reading, or she is working on a project while I’m playing guitar. And even though we don’t go out as much as we used to, it makes the times we do go see a show or an art exhibit more fulfilling.
MH: What has been the most eye-opening part of these experiences?
CK: Cancer has been very intrusive in our world. It took everything — our jobs and our lives as we knew them — and turned everything inside out and upside down. It’s changed almost everything forever. Even our dog passed away from cancer.
But we learned that there is more love and compassion out there than we had ever imagined. We literally survived on the kindness of friends, fans, and even complete strangers.
“We will always remember our community’s displays of compassion, and hope to pay it forward as we go along.”