Guitarist and sound man Les Hynes is usually the first to volunteer his playing time or technical talents at charity events and benefits for anyone in need.
Now that he’s the one everyone is rallying around to support, he’s having a hard time dealing with it.
“I’m not used to being on the other side of it,” said the 43-year-old, who lives in Paradise. “To be honest, being on this side, I really don’t know how to cope with it.”
Dozens of local musicians— along with friends, family members, co-workers and other supporters — are expected to turn out to The Rockhouse on George Street in St. John’s Thursday night for a benefit for Hynes, as he battles cancer.
Hynes was surprised a few weeks ago to see a Facebook post about the event, which was being organized by a friend, Krista Hearn. Since then, the outpouring of support has been incredible, to the point where Hynes — who jokingly refers to himself as “the pissy sound guy and contrary guitar player” is completely overwhelmed.
“Knowing so many people think this much of me to do this, is just unbelievable,” said Hynes, who gets emotional speaking about it. “I’m humbled beyond belief.”
On July 25, Hynes was diagnosed with squamous cell sarcoma — tongue cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes.
“It was like a smack in the face,” said Hynes, who went to doctors a month before, after he felt a small lump in his neck, followed by swelling and a sore throat. “I didn’t know how to handle it.”
Thanks to his wife, Jenelle, and their two children — Georgia, 13, and Jake, 9 — he’s been able to get through six rounds of chemotherapy and 35 rounds of radiation.
“There were two or three times I didn’t think I could make it through it,” he said. “It was misery.”
While he’s feeling somewhat better lately, severe fatigue, swelling and pain has meant Hynes, a technician at Rogers, hasn’t been able to work or play gigs or mix sound for other musicians.
“I can’t put a guitar on my shoulder, it hurts too much,” he said.
Hynes is touched to know his fellow musicians are rallying around him.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of people over the years and I never, ever thought people think of me like this,” Hynes said, his voice quivering. “It was so nice of them to do this. I appreciate it more than I can ever say."
Bands lined up to play at the benefit are Cripple Creek, The Narrows, Carolina East, Bump, Diezel Dogs, AC/Percy and The Ugly Sticks. Colin Hollett will be the host.
There will be plenty of prizes up for grabs, including an airlines trip to Labrador, where Hynes was born. Doors open at 8 p.m.
A PET scan on Jan. 29 will determine if Hynes’ cancer is gone or if he’ll need surgery. He’s trying not to think about it. Instead, he chooses to focus on the positives in his life, like his family and many good friends who are coming together for him.
“I’m not supposed to get sick, but I’m trying to fight through it,” Hynes said. “It’s pretty cool to know there are people in my life who are there for me.”