Lee and I went to the same middle and high school, but it wasn’t after we both had graduated and began creating independently that we connected. I challenged Lee to share his story after reading a post from his personal Instagram account.
“I don’t bring it up much. But ya boy has had the best glo-up so far. 3 Years of remission, from 180 to 140 lbs. From dying to starting a band and just this month, hopefully releasing a single. And to think I almost let my depression get to me on several occasions, that would have been the end of it. I’ve push on for three years, lets see how far I can keep going. i love you all”
At the time my grandmother was receiving chemotherapy for her breast cancer and I was struggling with anxiety and depression due to it among with many other factors. Reading his post made me realized that I was not alone and what I was trying to create with Rebels With A Cause was exactly that. An organization where we can inspire, empower, and nurture our hidden potentials by sharing our stories. Getting proximate to real issues, struggles, and creative individuals such as Lee. This is what Lee shared..
I. believe my story begins my Freshman year. Half way through nine grade I felt an odd sense about school. I barely cared to learn with others or study in general, so I decided to leave and do homeschooling. I did homeschooling for about a year and a half until I dropped out, since I still felt a disconnection with school. To keep myself occupied I work as a receptionist in a small investment company for a year or so until 2014, when I got diagnosed. While most of my friends were ending eleven grade and entering their senior year, I was being diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (Bone) cancer. This is where my story became an adventure…
Months before, I started feeling a sharp pain on my right knee area but I’ve always been an active person so I thought nothing of it. The pain continued and I decided to do exams and testing to see the actual cause of this pain that had started about 2 month prior. June 13, I went in for a MRI exam at 10 o’clock in the morning and by 2:00 pm that same day, doctors from out of the country were giving my mom a call.
On June 16, 2014, I heard for the first time ever the saying, “you have cancer”. I was admitted into Baptist Hospital in Kendall two days later. From there I spent a week running more exams and starting my first round of chemotherapy. At that moment I knew my life had changed forever…
For 10 months I endure countless chemo-therapies and several surgeries. One being the removal of the tumor located on my right femur. I now have 3/4 of my right femur titanium and a total knee replacement. People joked I was a cyborg which cheered me up through the process. Pain management and physical therapy was one of the hardest things I faced. Learning to literally walk again was eye opening. There were a good amount of days where I would tell my mom and nurses, “I can’t no more” and I wanted to give up. I remember having a conversation with my mom to end chemo and just trying anything else, but with the support of friends and family I continued on until the last drop.
April 3, 2015 was my last chemotherapy. Once I entered remission I had a total different view on life.
This new view and perspective of the world led me into a very deep depression. I had met so many kids and young adults with all sorts cancers. Some of which I grew strong friendships and connections with. Sadly, some lost this fight. It came to a point that I was at a funeral monthly. This for someone entering remission and trying to figure out his life was hard.
May of 2016, at 19 years old I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after having one of my worst breakdowns and suicidal attempt. I was diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder(MDD). Antidepressants and insomnia medications were prescribed for me but they only made me feel worse. After a couple months, I quit my medication and my depression lingered. After going through cancer and now dealing with depression, all I could think about was how to get better. A solution that I was against for a long period of time, was cannabis.
For the first time in a long time, I felt peace. I started consuming and smoking, personally medicating myself. I studied it closely and learned ways in which it was helping others. Started hearing and reading stories of how people with depression, anxiety, even cancer were consuming. It gave me hope, hope I haven't felt in months. Since I started, it has opened my eyes to learn about myself and my mental health, learning and observing others and the world. In doing so, my creativeness was enhanced.
One guy I owe so much to is my best friend since middle school, Jonathan Corona. The first person to get me high. He stuck with me through all of my challenges; cancer, depression, and relationships and break ups. We always dreamed of being in a band. I always played guitar since seventh grade. Only thing that gave me happiness and hope was a guitar, and so we started focusing on forming a band around the end of 2016.
We began writing songs and making up chords to go along. After we both finished dealing with bad relationships with our exes mid-2017, it gave us more inspiration to write songs. We started going to open mics and performing acoustic sets at local lounges and cafe shops. I first notice we were making our marks on the local music scene when I appeared at a local house show in someone's backyard. It was my first time going to any local band show. I knew no one there so I stood oddly in the back of this backyard. It was full of kids that had similar music taste as me. As I stood there, I had several kids point me out and coming up to me saying “Hey, I’ve seen you at —so and so’s— open mics”. Right there and then I called Corona and told him to slide over to this house show. That night change my love for music forever. We mosh, sang, screamed and smoked with kids who, little did I know, had so much in common with me. That exact same night we came up with the name of our first single. We just needed the rest of the band to form.
For weeks after we started practicing more and finding possible band mate to join this project. One name that came in mind for the longest was another friend from middle school, Jayniel Hernandez. He was the first person to ever introduce me to Vans Warped Tour and bands. We approached him and before we could even ask him to join, he already was learning the songs we had written. Then came Matt, another kid that we knew from high school. After several weeks of rehearsal and practice, Matt introduced me to Daniel Acosta. Funny enough, another kid from the same high school. Daniel had been in band class for couple years at school. We were in need of a bass player and he offered to help. Without even auditioning him out I automatically had him join.
I had started this project August 2017, and by Jan. 2018 we had the full line up. We were getting booked by bands that never had seen us before, only cause of word of mouth by people that had seen us from the start of this project. We started recording early this year and release our first single “Don’t Sleep” April 2018. The release of this song and the meaning behind it means so much to me. The month of April is my anniversary of my last chemo and remission. I wrote the song about a year ago when I lost a friend to cancer. The song expresses how I felt and how I viewed their death. One of my favorite lines in the song is on the second verse that leads into the chorus — “...I can’t take this no more, goodbyes to friends I’ve known. Chemicals at war, as you slip into the unknown”.
“I always saw cancer and chemotherapy as this battle, this war inside my body going on. And for those who lost the fight, they slipped into this endless slumber; hence the name “Don’t Sleep””.