When I first saw Richie Smith in 2011, it was comparable to meeting a ray of never-ending sunshine and kindness. Even then, he was no ordinary high school student, sporting long dreadlocks and a wide smile, he had a certain quality that made you feel like you were the best version of yourself. Richie was doing music then too, performing in cafes like Cassis and Mokah to raise money for charity. No one outside of his family, not even his closest friends, knew that he had two brain tumors. Two years later, his condition worsened with increasing seizures and he had 2 days to live unless he had immediate brain surgery. On November 24, 2012, Richie had unexpected immediate brain surgery to remove one of the two tumors. What couldn't be removed was diagnosed as Glioblastoma, Grade 4 brain cancer, the most threatening level of cancer. After the first surgery was completed in 2012, he was told he had 2 years to live. The fight raged on, and in 2013 there were two brain tumors growing in size, leading Richie to lose most mobility on the left side of his body, but he never gave up. He studied Non-profit management at Collin College and started the For A Reason World Foundation.
In two days, on the 4 year anniversary of his first brain surgery and his mother's birthday, Richie is releasing his first official song. Produced by the multi-platinum producer, John Kurzweg, the song will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and many other music distribution sites.
1. When and how did you first find out you have brain cancer? I first learned about the two brain tumors in 2010 through failing a peripherals test. Then having to receive an MRI I learned it wasn't cancerous at the time. Through the time span I gained many symptoms of needing brain surgery. On November 24th, 2012, my mothers birthday, I had brain surgery. After that I then learned I was diagnosed with grade 4 brain cancer.
2. What were your main concerns after being diagnosed?
My main concern through this whole entire journey was and still is whether I follow my dreams or not, if I make my father, our father, God proud. This journey shaped me into a better person and I'm thankful for all of it. What may be seen as good is a blessing. What may be seen as bad is a blessing. You can see good in whichever perspective you choose. It just matters how selective you are when looking through it.
3. What was the biggest challenge you faced with cancer? The biggest challenge I've had was actually gaining weight. I'm normally 135lbs and I've gone through numerous rounds of steroids but on my 5th round which last year I was put on a stronger dosage which caused me to gain 57lbs. It led me to not care much about myself but later it kicked into me to stop. I'm still in the process of losing the weight but it taught me a great lesson.
4. What helped you get through the more difficult moments? Through each and every moment, situation, occurrence, blessing, and curse I've had God to bring me through all of it. Without Him I would not be here. He will always help me. He is in entire control. He blessed me with this battle and I'm thankful for this.
5. Has your experience with cancer influenced your songwriting? My songwriting has matured very much. My thoughts towards life are in some ways the same but over all different. My thoughts when writing music now create more of lessons rather than having every song be a story. Nothing is wrong with telling a story. I just see mine more as teaching lessons.
6. How has having cancer changed your life? This journey has made me quite more empathetic and grateful. I also feel that I always have been a positive person but not as positive as I am now. Joy is my chemotherapy.
7. What’s next for you? Next I plan to follow more of my music career. Once it boosts, I want to use myself to help build my foundation (For A Reason World Foundation, farwf.org) so it'll also grow. I then believe I'll help so many in need God's willing.
8. Where can people listen and purchase your new song?
You can find my music at; iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, cdbaby, and numerous other distribution sites.
To follow Richie:
Facebook: Prayers 4 Richie
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