Q&A: Amee BellWanzo of Columbus Rocks the Cure

  • Photo by Jodi Miller
By
From the March 29, 2012 edition

After beating breast cancer, rocking out in front of hundreds of people is easy.

“I almost feel like I have more ownership of myself now. I made it through cancer; I can do what I want,” said Amee BellWanzo, who recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of being cancer free. “If I want to cut my hair weird, or get a tattoo, or whatever, there’s nobody stopping me.”

Start a fundraising campaign? Sure, why not?

BellWanzo is the woman behind Columbus Rocks the Cure, an annual roundup of local bands that raises money for cancer awareness and patient support.

This weekend is the show’s first sister event, Fashion Rocks the Cure. Three collections from local designers (Kelli Martin, Lindsay Hearts and Aaron James) will walk between sets by local bands (Maza Blaska, Ghost Shirt, Bush League All-Stars, and the punk outlet BellWanzo fronts, Black Eyed Betty).

BellWanzo filled us in on what surviving cancer taught her and why rock ’n’ roll still matters.

When I was going through treatment for breast cancer, playing with the band helped me feel normal. I was still doing the things that I love. That’s all you really want when something is wrong like that. Rock ’n’ roll, especially, is really powerful and really passionate. It made me feel better, stronger.

Music is my language. The first thing I remember hearing and being like, “Whoa! That’s awesome,” was No Doubt. There just weren’t that many girls at that time that were also rock-and-rollers. “I’m Just a Girl” is like my anthem.

The scariest thing about having cancer was being afraid to die, frankly. It’s a serious disease; that’s always scary. You don’t want it to affect your life or affect how you live. Along with that, losing your hair just sucked. I never missed a day of work unless I had to be at treatment. I tried very hard to not let it affect me, but you can’t hide that you don’t have hair. I felt like it reminded people that I was sick and I was trying not to act sick. The wig was my security blanket.

I’d look for little signs that told me it was going to be all right. This is going to sound crazy, but I almost got hit by a truck when [I had cancer]. I skidded into the intersection and slammed on my brakes, and at that moment I was like, “If God wanted to take my life, clearly there are other ways that he could do it.”

The advice I’d give to someone with cancer is something a great nurse at Grant told me. You might have days when you’re tired and run-down but you have to keep going. Tired is OK, and that’s understandable, but keep pressing on. You don’t have to crawl up in a ball the whole time, and you might feel worse if you do. Do what you can and keep on rocking.