Meet the Meadhams
I decided to separate this part about Amanda and Ginger from the Kicks Back review. The reason for this is that I want to draw special attention to this part. And there are so many impressions and information which deserve their own article. Ginger and Amanda talked in depth about their work and their family.
Navigator: Please tell me how you feel, being here in Germany on a sold out Kicks Back Festival.
Amanda: It´s absolutely an honor to be here and I feel overwhelmed.
Ginger: Yeah! The Psychobilly scene has been my friend for 39 years. To be here and to see the respect for cancer…..it´s amazing. The bands are here, they play for free and still give merchandise to us. So for us as a family it’s just amazing to be here.
Navigator: Amanda, you just work for the organization now, is that right? That must be a fulltime job by now, why has this organization become so important for you?
Amanda: Well yeah, I work for Kicks Back and I look after Ginger and Zoe.
Ginger: And that she does very well. People notice that. I had cancer myself, my sister had cancer but what people don´t know is that Amanda was one of the youngest children who ever had bladder cancer. So it´s very close to her heart.
Navigator: What is Cherry Lodge?
Amanda: When people are diagnosed with cancer, they can´t think of anything else apart from the word cancer. And when you step out from the doctor’s place it hits you very hard. There is no one who can really help you at this moment, no one you could talk to, you fall deep. We tried Macmillen but they refused but Cherry Lodge took everyone one in.
Ginger: The people from Cherry Lodge work for free for nearly 40 years. They take no money from anybody. They give advice, they give massages and acupunctures who need them. Kicks Back gives them money so they can keep their phone going and the acupuncture and the counseling.
Amanda: Not so long ago there was a big festival to raise money for Cherry Lodge. They raised 40.000 pounds but the next day they got robbed.
Ginger: And the next day, there was a disabled children’s horse riding school and somebody took the money for that as well. So Kicks Back needs to make this money to help them out. If you live together with a person with cancer and you don´t know how to help him you can call Cherry Lodge, even if you live in Germany, they will talk to you all day, tell you what you can do for this person and how you can do it. For example if he is upset, treat this person like a normal person…and this is why we all are here today and why Amanda is working so hard for Kicks Back. We even give our own money.
Amanda: If Cherry Lodge no longer exists and helps people with cancer, I´m pretty sure you could read a lot of suicide obituaries in the newspaper. Cherry Lodge are the only people that are actually helping people to cope with all this.
Ginger: If you go to a cancer care place, you have to make an appointment. And if you are not on social security you have to pay. You can go 100.000 times a year to Cherry Lodge and the lady will still open the doors and asks you: “How can I help you?” It doesn’t matter who you are. They have 120 volunteers and not one of them gets paid. So for my whole family it´s really important to do Kicks Back and I think we already made 7.000 pounds from Germany alone. We will take this home to Cherry Lodge and they will be able to answer the phone to you, me and everyone who needs help. Because they can pay the phone bill. This is why we both do it and we pay for everything. If we only sold 50 tickets we would have lost money, but I had the money to cover. We will cover the expenses with our personal money if necessary.
Navigator: What is the most important thing that changed, in your opinion, since you do Kicks Back?
Amanda: Since we do this people started talking about their losses, about their fear and they are happy to be here and help and get help themselves by being able to talk about their pain and are not alone anymore and that´s why we do this. When I got diagnosed with cancer, twice, I felt very lonely and depressed and when Ginger got diagnosed with cancer and after him his sister got diagnosed with cancer, too and then there is no one out there you can talk to, it´s so damn hard.
Ginger: People don´t know how to talk to you, what they can say and so they stop talking to you because they don´t want to make you feel misunderstood and that’s the worst thing.
Amanda: People say they are sorry but not: „What help do you need or how could I make you feel better?” or just listen to you.
Ginger: People with cancer are still alive, they don´t need condolences yet. They are very lonely in their head so people should just say: “Hey, this is very bad what happened to you, how can I help you or make you feel better?” People with cancer should not sit indoors all day and be upset, go to them and take them out. Ask them if they want to leave the house and get their mind off cancer. Show them that they still have a life. This is what people can do.
Navigator: The next concert is in February?
Ginger: Yes, we have 10 bands and 150 People can come and it´s sold out already. Here we are booked for next year in Germany already. (Read more) We haven´t even done this festival but the manager came to us and asked us about next year. We have about 50 Bands between England and Germany and we have to choose carefully. Tonight we got 1.000 pounds in donations and we sold 5 boxes of donated merchandise and got 4 more boxes to come. So yes, the next concert is in February and we will go on with it. In 39 years of psychobilly drumming people became fans, then friends and now they are family to me.
Navigator: It must be very hard to go through all this pain, how can you still do all this?
Amanda: The only reason Ginger Meadham keeps going is for the love and support from the family.
Ginger: What people don´t know is that I lay down at home and I´m very, very ill. They don´t see my daughter come to me and ask: ”Daddy, what is it? Are you in pain?” People don´t see that my lovely wife Amanda, who is 20 years younger than me, comes to me and says: “Come on Steve, you need to get up again! Don´t give up. We have a lot of stuff to do.” What I´m trying to say is, it would be so much easier to just lay down and say: “I can´t help I´m ill! So fuck off!” Honestly sometimes I thought that. When they took my face off and when they took my nose I was depressed. I thought: ”Look at me! I´m ugly! I look like a horror figure!” and I turned away from Amanda not wanting her to see me but she said: “You are still my husband and I still love you!” That´s what’s keeps me going! When we started to do Kicks Back I said: “Oh Amanda, I´m tired!” She just answered: „Come on! Let´s do the show!” She gives me the energy to keep me going. My wife, my daughter, my friends and the people from Kicks Back. That´s what keeps me going! Being here, tonight is better than every medication. I feel very good tonight!
Amanda: But no one will see the effects this work and stress will have to him on Monday morning.
Ginger: Yeah, but I can cope....
Amanda: No, tell the truth now! Tell them about the face you put on for this!
Ginger: Well ok, Ginger is a character. He´s the happy partyman you see here. Always good, always happy and smiling but in the back of my head I know I´m not very well. Well, I got the ok from cancer now, I´m fine but on Tuesday I got the message that I maybe have Parkinson disease.
Amanda: Which is not good!
(Note: We are happy to tell you that the Parkinson-test was negative)
Ginger: Yes, but it made me stronger and you stronger and we are here now and we are gonna rock this.
Amanda: Yes, we are strong but we are also afraid! This is part of being you. This is what people don´t see but what it is like to be ill.
Both: But when we both are down, our daughter Zoe will come and make us strong again. She just makes us laugh again. She is like medicine for us. When she was six weeks old, she nearly died. When she made it through the nurse said: “She has a big heart! We don´t believe in angels here but your daughter has something special!”
Ginger: And she still has that talent. She can make people feel better about themselves. She is our angel. She looks after us, really, but she can be a handful! She is still a 14 year old teenager!
Amanda: And she has a lot from her father!
Ginger: Yes she has.
Thank you so much!
"People with cancer are still alive, they don´t need condolences yet!"
After this interview something happened that I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. Ginger left to have a smoke. I stayed with Amanda and as mothers do, we talked about our children. We talked about our children's difficult start into life and how glad we are that we didn't lose them. During this talk Amanda´s voice and expression changed. She started saying how difficult it is to be alone with these thoughts of loss. Then she went silent.
Her gaze averted and with a calm voice she started: "You know, all the others here know the cheerful Ginger, the party animal, but they don't know what we see. They don't witness what happens when it's just us. No one sees how strong my fear is that he won't come home."
I looked at her with big eyes. I thought about how to react. I told her that I have no idea either about what she's going through, but that she's strong and that it's okay to let everything out.
She continued that she can barely stomach seeing Ginger suffer so much. She told me that he has almost no energy and he needs to collect a lot of strength for these events. She knows that it'll take him at least a week to recover from these exertions. She's glad about all the support from the community but she's afraid of what will come after they withdraw from the public.
I felt my throat closing. Frantically I searched for the right thing to do to help her, to give her the feeling that she might not be alone after all. I decided to continue listening.
Shortly thereafter she let everything out. She cried and her hands were shaking. I held and squeezed her hands over the table, I wanted to show her that I'm here and I'm listening, I wanted to give her support. I couldn't do much more.
She told me every day is filled with anxiety, especially when the phone rings. She thinks a lot about how many supporters will stay once Ginger dies. And she explained how difficult it is to be strong, for Zoe, for Ginger and for the organization. Some days she has no strength at all and doesn't even know how to get up. On these days she is filled with desperation.
A few minutes later Ginger came back and talked to us. I was moved and didn't know what to do. I listened to my gut instinct and continued to give them my attention. Amanda regained her composure, got up and went for a drink. Ginger took my hand and said: "Thank you for being there for her! Sometimes you just have to let everything out and it was about time for her. You just did more than you could imagine!“ I was moved even more, wiped a tear away and took a deep breath. Ginger continued: „Is the recorder still on?" and pointed towards my cellphone. I denied and went on to ensure that nothing about this conversation would ever be published because it is private. He interrupted me: "I want you to write about this! People should know how terrible this is and what shit we're fighting against. Amanda is incredible, she is a very strong woman, but it doesn't matter how tough it is, everyone breaks a bit under this and you have to talk about it, to not crack completely! In order for people to understand this they have to read about it!"
By this time Amanda was back. She was worried that our readers would consider her being whiny and weak. But we were able to convince her that this couldn't be further from the truth.
I agreed to write everything down and decided back then to separate this article from the interview.
Oftentimes you want to help the families whose relatives are affected by cancer, but you don't know how to help. But it is so simple: Just listen.
Pictures by Ginger and Amanda Meadham
Interview by Brina
Translation by Alex