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‘People pulling and praying’ for former Black Oak Arkansas musician

By Rob Hedelt

The Free Lance-Star

WHEN YOU’RE  fighting something as  devastating as cancer, it helps to have both a positive outlook and a mindset for dealing with the disease. Stafford County’s Dave Wilson has armed himself with both since being diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer last August, the very day of the earthquake. 

The 60-year-old Lake Arrowhead resident’s motto: “I have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have me.”

  The lifelong musician, who  played bass with the nationally known rock group Black Oak Arkansas in the late 1970s and early ’80s, has been through the wringer in the past year.

  He’s had several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, treatment ports installed, dealt with blood clots, faced the cancer’s spread to other parts of his body and been treated for jaundice and other issues.

  He’s been treated locally and has gone to major medical centers for answers. He is set to take part in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

  Throughout the struggle against a type of cancer he realizes can be managed but not cured, Wilson said he has chosen to fight instead of surrender.  That extends to an upbeat attitude and ever-present sense of humor that his wife, Angela, who works at North Stafford High School, says often surprises the doctors, nurses and supporters that stretch around the world.

  “We keep people updated online,” Wilson said when I first talked to him earlier this year. “I don’t know if they realize how much it means to know you have people pulling and praying for you.”

  He said it also helps to try, as much as possible, to maintain as much of your lifestyle as you can.

  To that end, the owner and operator of WilSound Audio has kept working, even when he’s so weak from the cancer and treatments that he needs help moving speakers and other equipment the company provides for special events. Those events  range from fashion shows to groundbreaking ceremonies to the Fourth of July celebration at Pratt Park. 

Wilson also is the sound man for an up-and-coming country music band, Rebelicious.   And he plays bass and sings with bands at shows and in session work now and then.

 One special evening came in January, when a group of his friends in the music business put on a special night at Tommy’s Place in Manassas.   A handful of bands played through the evening, with items donated and auctioned.

The evening’s proceeds went to help cover Wilson’s costs for medical travel, clinical trials and out-of-town consultations.

  “That was special,” said Wilson, his eyes misting.

  Looking back over his musical career, Wilson said he had a blast performing and touring with different bands in his youth, culminating with Black Oak.   They took him to nearly every state in the union, allowed him to meet musicians from all over and taught him how to survive life on the road.

  He doesn’t mince words about other parts of that lifestyle, the drinking and other indulgences that later led to a successful battle to get and stay sober.

  He’s excited about a project he began years ago to put together a collection of his original tunes. A group of musician friends performed those tunes, and Wilson hopes he will be able to get into a recording studio in the near future.

  But right now, he and Angela are optimistic about the potential results of the  Hopkins’ clinical trial.

  It’s a “Double-Blind Phase II Study Comparing ABT–888, a PARP Inhibitor, versus Placebo with Temozolomide in Patients with Relapsed Sensitive or Refractory Small Cell Lung Cancer.”

  Wilson, whose positive attitude has him giving thanks for every new day, would like to think the trial will help manage his cancer.  And if not, he feels that if he’s “a guinea pig,” someone down the line will reap the benefit.

  If you doubt his resolve to battle the disease, check out the hats and shirts he had made. They bear a picture of a large metal screw, followed by the word “cancer.”

  Right on, Black Oak bass man.  I’m pulling for you. 


Rob Hedelt:  540/374-5415