Alabama members share their personal battles with cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Randy Owen, a well-known Alabama musician, had a devastating prostate cancer diagnosis. “How long do I have?” was the first thought that sprang into his mind. Jeff Cook, the guitarist and fiddler in his band, also discovered he had the same type of cancer. Teddy Gentry, the bass player, had similar concerns, but after a month of waiting, his test results were clean.

Gentry stated, “It was such an eerie feeling.” However, the fact is that it may happen to anybody at any time. We have no control over it, and it is completely scary.”Alabama, the legendary country music group, will be honored with the Tony Martell Lifetime Entertainment Achievement Award at the 11th annual Nashville Honors Gala hosted by the T.J. Martell Foundation. Alabama is especially thrilled to get this award from the leading cancer research funding foundation because every member of the group has been affected by the disease. Jeff Cook, who is now battling Parkinson’s disease, has also been slated to attend.

“America comes to mind when I think of Alabama.” Laura Heatherly, CEO of the T.J. Martell Foundation, stated, “They have touched so many people in this country through their music and wonderful beliefs about helping others.” “We love to honor and recognize those who have made amazing contributions to our community, and there is no doubt that Alabama has had an impact on communities all over the nation.”Alabama, which will mark its 50th anniversary in 2019, embarked on a farewell tour in 2003. Interestingly, they discovered that audiences were still captivated by their music, prompting a reunion for Brad Paisley’s smash song “Old Alabama” in 2011. Since then, Alabama has continued to write songs and create new projects.

Both Jeff Cook and Randy Owen were diagnosed with cancer during their sabbatical. Fortunately, Cook believed his medical professionals and accepted their word that he would be well. Owen, on the other hand, had to deal with a far more intense fight. When he questioned about his life expectancy, his doctor responded harshly.She recalls, “He said to me, ‘I refuse to work with you as long as you have that attitude.’” “I asked him what he meant since I was astonished. “I’m the ship’s captain now, and we’re going to beat this together,” he told the crowd. The words filled me with courage.The singer’s doctor urged him to go to Mexico for treatment, as the nation commonly employs high-intensity focused ultrasounds, or HIFUs, to treat cancer. Unfortunately, the United States did not have access to this therapy. Owen traveled to Mexico for the effective therapy with his wife and doctor. Owen has not had cancer in nine years.

Although Owen’s experience with the life-saving procedure in Mexico was traumatic, he believes it was the correct decision. He emphasizes the need of having open discussions about prostate cancer and the need for routine PSA testing. Owen encourages guys to seek for help without feeling uncomfortable. He reminds us that we are all faulty human beings.Owen is committed to cancer research, despite his own struggles. He founded Country Cares for St. Jude Kids, which raised approximately $800 million for cancer research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Owen and his family were given a patient family room at the hospital as a symbol of gratitude for their three decades of charity contributions.While Owen’s condition has considerably improved, Jeff Cook continues to battle Parkinson’s disease. The skilled multi-instrumentalist said in 2017 that he would no longer be able to tour often with Alabama after obtaining a diagnosis four years before.

Cook did, however, notice that his guitar playing improved after having stem cell treatments. He continues to seek treatments, and when he feels good enough, he performs. During concerts, his bandmates make sure his equipment is ready for him so he may perform whenever he wants.Cook remains enthusiastic about playing the guitar in the recording studio, despite the odd hiccup in his voice. He really co-wrote the song “No Bad Days” for the band’s “Southern Drawl” album, which holds fresh meaning for him.Alabama’s music continues to inspire and touch the hearts of its fans, despite the personal challenges they have faced. Their perseverance and commitment to advancing Parkinson’s disease and cancer research serve as a reminder that, despite our differences, we are all linked by our struggles and triumphs.


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