They say the world is divided into those who see the glass as half empty and those who see it as half full. Neither of these descriptions does musician Dave McCabe justice.
The 24-year old guitarist with Dublin band Stolen City spoke to Ryan Tubridy on Monday and told him that the band had been very much looking forward to 2020. But things didn't go according to plan and Covid-19 wasn’t the only – or even the main – unexpected happening in what was supposed to be a defining year for the band.
"We released a single in February and it was a big single for us. It was called The Tower. And we were promoting this song all through the month of February. And then I started feeling like unbelievably tired and then in March, everything just kind of hit the fan and all went downhill."
Dave told Ryan that he’d been working hard with the band for six years, but he’d never experienced anything like the fatigue he started to feel in February. He found that he was sleeping all the time, in an effort to stop feeling tired. But it didn’t help. Then he discovered bruises on his hands and legs, as well as blood blisters in his mouth. His GP told him he had hand, foot and mouth disease.
Spoiler alert: Dave did not have hand, foot and mouth disease. Fortunately for Dave, bloods were taken on Thursday. He started getting calls from St James’s Hospital on Friday.
"It turned out I had to go straight into hospital, I was rushed straight in. It turned out I had APML leukaemia. So I got diagnosed with that. Which was just on the 6th of March, which is just absolute madness, you know?"
Dave describes himself as a relaxed person, who doesn’t tend to panic about anything, but the situation he found himself in on the 6th of March would surely qualify as one in which to panic. Especially when the doctor tells him that she’s not "someone you want to see on a Friday afternoon".
But as the doctor told Dave about his leukaemia the best he could do was, "Oh my god. This is different, you know?" The seriousness of Dave’s illness was underlined in fairly stark terms by the doctor:
"So, basically, the bruises on my hands and the bruises on my legs and everything was that my body was bleeding and the blood wasn’t clotting. And she said, 'This is extremely serious. If you’ve a bleed to your brain’, she’s like, ‘that’s it, we have hours here.’"
Treatment started that evening. Ryan asked Dave how he felt about the doctor telling him that he could only have hours to live if things went the wrong way. Dave, being Dave, was resolutely unflappable:
"I was calm. I was calm and chilled about the whole thing and I genuinely was."
The day after Dave started his chemotherapy, Stolen City were supposed to be playing a gig at the UCD Science Ball. Dave, of course, asked his oncologist if he’d be able to get away for the gig.
"She was like, ‘This is really serious, I don’t think you understand.’ I was like, ‘Ah no, I do, it’s just, the gig’s really important, you know?’"
You have to hear Dave talking to believe his remarkable, joyous disposition. Ryan told him he might just be the most optimistic man he’s ever interviewed. It’s hard to disagree with that.
And the good news is, he was discharged from hospital in April and has been told by his doctor that he picked the right leukaemia to get and, if all goes according to plan, he’ll finish up his treatment in November.