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"Warning signs" seem normal — until the diagnosis ...


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"I remember hallucinating, that's really like the only thing." ...


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New bone marrow and a new album on the same day ...







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— by Corey Moss

Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon walked out of a New York recording studio on the afternoon of May 27 so thrilled about finally finishing his solo album that he forgot how sick he was feeling.

And then his doctor called.

"He kind of lightly but not so lightly said to go someplace and sit down," McMahon remembers.

Photos: Andrew McMahon's Career

McMahon — a 23-year-old surfer from the upper-class Southern California town of Dana Point (motto: "Harboring the good life ...") — grew up a poster child for excellent health. As a singer, he was known for his remarkably resilient voice. Eight-hour practices were common.

That voice, however, began weakening in March, when McMahon hit the road to debut his solo material. Under the name Jack's Mannequin, he started at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and headed east.

"There were a handful of what I guess now you would consider warning signs, but it was so easy to write them off as, 'I'm in a van for the first time,' " says McMahon, whose piano-punk band Something Corporate was signed right out of high school. "I was lugging all my own gear, and we were also going out until like four every morning. And I made it a point to be at the merch booth, shaking like 300 or 400 hands a day, so I was working really hard."

By the time he reached the East Coast, McMahon had lost his voice completely. For the first time in his professional career he canceled a show. The next day, he paid a visit to a voice coach/doctor.

"He looked at me funny and was like, 'What's going on?' " McMahon recalls. "He noticed that I just really didn't have a complexion. I was totally white. He was like, 'I think we should take your blood.' "

 "There were a handful of what I guess now you would consider warning signs ..." — Andrew McMahon

When another doctor called back with test results, McMahon had literally just finished mastering Everything in Transit, an intensely personal, coming-of-age album he'd spent the past year pouring his heart into. McMahon remembers it as "one of the more bizarre conversations I've had in my life."

"He's like, 'I don't understand how you're walking around, let alone playing shows,' " McMahon says. "He's like, 'Not to alarm you, but these blood counts indicate you need a blood transfusion.' "

At the doctor's request, McMahon immediately checked in to New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was sent directly to the leukemia ward.

"To hear that for the first time was like, 'OK,' " he says. "I had no idea what to expect or what was going on."

McMahon had a bone-marrow biopsy and then awaited the results ... for five days. "It was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, so that was a little agonizing," he smiles. "They came back, and they diagnosed me at that point with — acute lymphatic leukemia is what they call it."


NEXT: McMahon jokes through the chemo until pneumonia hits ...
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Photo: MTV News

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