Local News

H.S. Band Director Returns For Performance Of A Lifetime

Posted September 17, 2002

— For seven months WRAL has followed Mike Lancaster's battle with neck cancer. In June, surgeons removed what they hope were the last traces of cancer.

This past Friday was another major milestone for the Southern Nash High School band director. WRAL was there when the Marching Firebirds performed their halftime show. For Lancaster, it was a performance of a lifetime.

The pageantry of Friday night high school football includes high energy, high spirits and a band director high on life.

"I'm still here. I'm here and I'm excited. This has been the best medicine," said Lancaster.

Lancaster and his Southern Nash High School band have worked hard for their first Friday night performance of the year at their home field. This half-time show was extra special. Music from the broadway musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" touched the band director in many ways.

"I've waited about 40 years to do this show," Lancaster said.

Before the marching band hit the field, Lancaster paid attention to every little detail, from uniforms to attitudes.

Lancaster lost a total of 70 pounds during his fight against cancer and has gained some weight back. He still tires easily, but said he feels reborn.

"I feel absolutely wonderful," he said. "If it comes back, we'll do what we have to do."

Lancaster also needs physical therapy to regain the use of his arm, and hopefully, his trumpet playing.

"I've played it just enough [that] I know it's still there. I can do it," Lancaster said.

Lancaster's spirited fight to overcome cancer has inspired many people.

"People who've got cancer -- we can't relate to the specific disease, but we can all relate to the treatments," he said.

Lancaster's band students have played a key role in his nine-month battle with cancer. He was excited about seeing them perform Friday night. He said it was a performance he thought he might not live to see.

"I'm so excited, I can't express it in words. I want to see the show. I want to see the kids do it," he said. "I'm so proud of them."

Lancaster will have his first scan at UNC Hospitals this week and will continue to go every six weeks for a year.


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