Two years ago, Ronnie Hawkins thought he was dying from pancreatic cancer. Now he’s cured


main_RonnieHawkins-redcarpetRockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins says “the Big Rocker in the sky” cured him of terminal pancreatic cancer.

Other theories abound, some of which are explored in Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive And Kickin’, airing tonight at 9:30 on CTV — a fascinating reminder of the mysteries of the healing process.

An outpouring of love cured the man, some people say. Soon after the diagnosis, friends such as Bill Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Anka and David Foster threw an exclusive party for him in Toronto. The city declared Ronnie Hawkins Day, inducting him into the Walk of Fame and staging a four-hour tribute concert at Massey Hall.

His own party attitude healed him, others say. Ever since arriving from Arkansas in 1958, Hawkins has displayed a singular talent for having fun, and for the electrifying showmanship that earned him the nickname “Rompin’ Ronnie.”

But two other theories are drawing particular attention.

One comes from a top surgeon, who says the singer might never have had cancer in the first place. The other comes from a teenage healer in Vancouver, who says Hawkins did have cancer and recovered through a telepathic process explained by quantum physics.

Either way, Hawkins says, “I became some kind of miracle.”

The surgeon is Dr. Bryce Taylor. He is chief of surgery and director of surgical services at the University Health Network in Toronto. He is also a top specialist in pancreatic cancer and a longtime Hawkins fan.

“I’ve known Ronnie for probably 30 years,” he said in an interview this week.

Until Hawkins was declared cured, all medical evidence pointed to pancreatic cancer, Taylor says.

Two years ago on Aug. 13, 2002, he opened Hawkins up and found a hardened lump — like a cancerous tumour — at the head of the pancreas, between the bowel and the liver.

Taylor tried to remove it but couldn’t because it was wrapped around major veins and arteries. He performed a bypass and sewed his patient up again. Hawkins declined chemotherapy and was expected to be dead by Christmas.

Sometimes, Taylor says, pancreatic cancer is impossible to distinguish from pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. But, he says, Hawkins had “a localized lump — it didn’t look like pancreatitis throughout the gland.”

The lump also kept growing, behaviour consistent with a malignant tumour.

“About four months later,” Taylor says, “the MRI showed that the mass was bigger, which is almost unheard of with any inflammatory disease.”

In the TV documentary, directed by Toronto filmmaker Anne Pick, an oncologist is shown giving Hawkins the bad news.

“With the growth that we are seeing, there really isn’t much doubt that this is a cancerous growth, right?” says oncologist R.F. Wierzbicki. “What we don’t have, we don’t have 100 per cent proof of it by biopsy.”

“It’s growing on a spot where it’s inoperable,” Hawkins says. “What’s the difference whether it’s cancerous or not cancerous?”

“There isn’t really, as far as you’re concerned,” the oncologist says.

Not long afterward, Hawkins suffered a potentially lethal blood clot in the leg, a common ailment for people with abdominal cancers, Taylor says.

“Everything pointed to cancer,” the surgeon says.

On the other hand, cancer was never proven. Three biopsies turned up no cancer cells, which didn’t prove an absence of cancer, either.

“One of two things has happened,” Taylor says in the film to explain the singer’s survival. “Either Ronnie did have a small cancer with a lot of inflammation around it and for some reason it has resolved, and I guess that would have to be categorized as a miracle.

“Or he had an absolutely one-of-a-kind presentation of a localized chronic pancreatitis that then subsequently resolved.

“Both those situations are equally rare.”

Offering a radically different view is the Vancouver healer.

His name is Adam. He keeps his full identity secret and his address vague, he says, to avoid being hounded by desperate people seeking cures. He says he lives a “normal” suburban life with a younger sister and his parents Frank and Liz. At the time of the events, he was a 16-year-old high school student, not 15 as somebody says in the film.

On Sept. 21, 2002, Adam read that Hawkins had cancer.

“I had never heard of Ronnie Hawkins before that day, but my dad said he enjoys his music,” Adam writes in his book DreamHealer, published last year, which includes a section on Hawkins.

That same day, after contacting Hawkins through his manager, Adam started treatments. He arranged for Hawkins to sit upright in a chair with his feet on the floor to “ground” his energy. At the same time from Vancouver, Adam studied a colour photograph of Hawkins and visually entered the singer’s body.

“I could see a tumour about the size of a tennis ball — approximately 10 centimetres,” he writes. “I spent the next few weeks treating Ronnie’s tumour on the energetic level, helping Ronnie’s body fight off the cancer and reduce the tumour.

“From the beginning of my treatment, Ronnie felt a quivering in his stomach area. His jaundice improved and…he no longer felt or looked like a dying man. The first time we heard that he looked wonderful was Sept. 23, so everyone was very encouraged, especially Ronnie. He told me to `keep on rockin’.'”

On Sept. 27, Adam says he visually compared his father’s healthy pancreas to Hawkins’ diseased one.

“I noticed that Ronnie’s pancreas was blocked and my dad’s had a constant drip flowing out of it,” he writes. “I manipulated the energy and got Ronnie’s pancreatic juices flowing. It actually started with a gushing flow.”

Oct. 4 was declared Ronnie Hawkins Day in Toronto. At the Massey Hall tribute, the guest of honour was already feeling well enough to get up and sing, “Hey, Bo Diddly.”

“I could tell every time I went in, his tumour was a little smaller,” Adam recalls in the film. Treatments were daily for the first three weeks, less frequent after that.

On Feb. 27, a CT scan showed no sign of a lump. On April 11, an MRI confirmed no trace of disease whatsoever.

“When I look at cancer, it has a very distinct glow to it,” Adam says in the film. “There was no doubt it was cancer.” In the book, he writes at length about quantum physics theory, saying that some day science will be able to explain how distance healing works.

Hawkins didn’t tell the filmmakers about Adam until he was declared cancer-free. But director Pick said this week that she knew something odd was going on.

“All through the filming (Hawkins) kept saying, `Man, it’s like there’s an alien in my stomach — I feel like Sigourney Weaver is going to jump out.'”

Pick had Hawkins re-create the scene.

“I get little pulsations in my stomach,” he says in the re-enactment, “like your muscles jumping a little. Not hurting but you can feel it. It’s all over. You think, `Is Adam really doing this?’ This is Twilight Zone stuff now.”

When asked this week whether he believes Adam cured him, Hawkins says: “I don’t believe in healers too much myself. I’m from the South, you know. Only the Big Rocker can heal.”

Hawkins’ wife Wanda sounded more appreciative this week of Adam’s powers.

This spring, she says, the teenager visited their home north of Peterborough, along with his parents and sister. Wanda asked if Adam might treat her own sister, who suffers from fibromyalgia. Adam agreed and Wanda sat with her sister for the session. Her dog sat between them.

“My sister couldn’t lie on her side for five minutes and now she sleeps on her side,” Wanda says of one change she attributes to Adam.

“My little chihuahua had something wrong with her hip — arthritis or whatever,” Wanda adds. “She could never jump up on the couch….

“When the session was over, the dog was just totally, totally wasted and I was really tired, too….But later on, she’s jumping all over the chairs. We could not believe that this dog that for four years couldn’t even get up on the steps was now jumping on couches and everything.”

For six months, Wanda says, the dog continued to jump around. Then their German shepherd somehow crushed the smaller animal and injured its leg again.

Hawkins continues to feel vulnerable as well.

Two years ago, he had quadruple heart bypass surgery. He has diabetes. He still smokes heavily. At nearly 70, he says he can’t explain why he’s alive at all.

“I take more pills than Ozzy Osbourne,” he says.

And he can’t say for certain what cured him.