Inside the
Summer Issue:

Home Page

For Bruce Springsteen,
"Do Something" Means
Many Things.

The Beat of a
Different Drummer:
An Interview
with Jim Chapin

Students Use
Pocket Change
to Make a
Big Difference

Cancer Patient
Cites Harry's
Message as Key
to Survival

The Power
of Design(ers)

Harry Chapin
Freedom of Choice

Goat Tales

The Cat's
in the Cradle...

Letter to
the Editor


Long Island
Songwriters Plan
"Sequel" Benefit
Tribute Concert

Howard Fields and
Al Stewart in
Concert to
Benefit KIDS Can
Make a Difference

Readers Share Thoughts
in Second Annual
Circle! Survey

Circle Calendar

Cancer Patient Cites Harry's Message as Key to Survival

by Freddy Zalta

Don Boland cites his father’s stubbornness, his mother’s zeal for life, and Harry Chapin’s song lyrics among the reasons for his survival from an advanced form of cancer.

When Don Boland recalls the time he was coaxed into going to see Harry Chapin perform in New Brunswick, NJ, in 1980, he can't help but think about the impact that event had on him much later in life.

At the concert, Boland listened carefully to Harry's call-to-action that people "do something" to make a difference. Though the phrase stuck with him, at the time, Boland hadn't figured out how to put it to use.

Then, several years ago, he was diagnosed with an advanced form of squamous cell carcinoma, which is a form of skin cancer. Immediately, a barrage of concerns and questions ran through his mind: "Am I going to die?" was among the first.

The doctors told Boland he had a 45 percent chance of survival. While lying on his hospital bed, he felt anxiety blanketing over him until he looked into the eyes of his mother. The look of fear he saw was all he needed to refocus his energy. Boland recalled Harry's "do something" motto and made it his own — and his lifeline.

"I will beat this," he told her, and then held her hand. "When I saw my mother looking at me, I decided I would not only survive and beat that 55 percent chance of death to a pulp, but I would spread my message of survival and make a difference for all the despondent and sick patients out there."

As Boland began to share his challenge with others, people responded with prayers, well wishes and love. Their warmth and support helped him to heal, he explained. He also capitalized on traits he inherited from his parents, including his father's stubbornness and his mother's zeal for life.

But it was the messages in Harry's lyrics and his overall positive outlook on life that were among the key reasons why he never gave in to the odds that were stacked against him. "Especially the song, Mr. Tanner," Boland noted. "Go for your dream, no matter how impossible it may seem. If you take action, if you take chances and you give it your all, there are no limits."

Boland said his "can do" spirit and energy paid off. "I am feeling 100 percent these days," he said. Now he's taken his message of survival to others in need. "I'm attending church meetings, speaking to people, spreading my story. If I can do it, anyone can."

Citing the lyrics to Chapin's song Circle, he smiled. "So far no dead ends," he said.

Watch for the Next Issue of Circle! on September 7