Fighting For Your Unlived Life


Misunderstood (Motley Crue cover)

Welcome to Day Three! I’ve mentioned cancer a few times, so you’re probably wondering about my story. I can’t talk about the Truth & Magic EP without mentioning this part, because without it, the EP would’ve never been made…so here goes nothing.

I turned 41 years old a few years ago and thought it would be smart to get a physical. I still don’t know why, but for some reason, the doctor also did a PSA test…this is strange because they normally don’t do this test until you turn 50. Anyway, the results came back high. I got referred to a urologist, who did a biopsy, yada yada yada. To make a long story short: it was a pretty advanced case of prostate cancer.

I’ll try my best to explain how those words made me feel at the time: I mostly remember the shock and then just feeling numb. I tried to reason my way out of it. I tried to put a positive spin on it. I minimized. Rationalized. Marginalized. And when every coping tactic I knew failed, I just curled up in a ball on the floor and cried until I ran out of tears. It felt like my life was over, but somehow I pulled myself together and found the strength to fight back.

I had surgery first, which was pretty rough and took several weeks to recover from. The doctors were confident they got all the cancer, but we kept running tests to make sure. Well, 6 months later it made a comeback. I was devastated once again, but this time I was ready for a fight. We scheduled a double-whammy treatment plan that included 30 days of radiation and 6 months of hormone shots. Those things brought their own surprises (especially the hormones), but I sailed through it with flying colors and have been cancer-free ever since.

As painful as that season was, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because cancer ended up being the TEACHER I had needed all along. Cancer taught me how to be a fighter…to not just roll over and blindly accept everything life throws my way. It also taught me how short life on this planet can be, and the need to make every day count. But the biggest lesson of all was when I realized the incalculable value of the gifts that are borne within the human soul, and the incredible loss that happens when those gifts are not shared with the world. Whatever good there was within me, whatever could be a ray of light into someone else’s life, whatever made me “special”, there could be no more excuses…no more fear…no more delay. It had to be expressed. I had to start fighting for my unlived life.

Fighting For Your Unlived Life

by Donnie Schexnayder | Truth & Magic

Fighting For Your Unlived Life

One of my favorite quotes is by Natalie Babbitt from her novel “Tuck Everlasting”:

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

After I beat cancer once and for all, that quote became my battle cry. I knew that I had songs within me that needed to be written and shared with the world. I knew I had spent too long hiding in the safety of my music room, and that it was time to pursue that inner life I had long neglected because I was too busy and – let’s be honest here – too afraid to be vulnerable.

So I started writing. I would get up every morning at 5 AM and just write songs; sometimes they sounded like crap, and other times I would amaze myself. After months of this daily ritual, a theme started to rise to the surface. That’s when I knew I was ready to make a record.

This song was the one that summed up my cancer journey the best, and it delivers the message I want to share with the world: FIGHT for your unlived life!

Whatever your dream is, FIGHT to make it happen. The world needs what you have to share, and it needs it NOW; don’t wait for tragedy to hit your life before you start giving yourself away. Whether it’s writing poetry, painting, photography, starting a business or just volunteering to help people in your city, step out and do it. Don’t wait another day. Start living your true life today!

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I’ll admit it – I love 80’s and 90’s rock. This photo of me from 1990 says it all lol:

Motley Crue wasn’t one of my favorite bands at the time, but I really liked the lyrical depth in this one particular song, so I did a studio cover version of it.

My version is more of a stripped down acoustic thing, instead of the epic Beatlesque hard rock way they did it, but I think it turned out OK. I’ve never released this song, so this is one of the only places you’ll be able to hear it. Enjoy!

Misunderstood (cover)

by Donnie Schexnayder

OK. Day Three is a wrap – tomorrow it really gets personal!