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If all goes well with the transplant and it rids him of the cancer, McMahon will release "Katie" on the next Something Corporate album, which the band will write and record off and on over the next year as their singer recovers. "I think the circumstances surrounding it will truthfully push us all to make the best thing we've made yet," McMahon says.

Currently, though, McMahon's musical focus is Jack's Mannequin. To him, it's no coincidence that he finished Everything in Transit just before learning about his cancer.

"I feel like the way it all timed itself out felt creepily natural, and if you listen to the record, there are all these odd little premonitions worked into it," he says. "The last song I wrote before the record was finished was this song called 'Dark Blue,' and the pre-chorus to the song is like, 'OK, maybe it's time you need to take a break/ You need to slow down.' And in a lot of ways this is an interesting way to take a vacation. I don't want to say the record foreshadowed that I was going to get leukemia, but it foreshadowed that I was at a point where I needed time. ... And there's all these strange sort of references to hospitals and things, but it's a really hopeful record and I feel very hopeful."

 
"It's not just medicine; it's how much you commit your head to actually fighting it and accepting what's going on ..."

— Andrew McMahon


From the afternoon he learned he had leukemia, McMahon has seen In Transit as part of a healing process, and it will only become more important now that it's been released.

"Granted there's going to be some hard days in the beginning, like I'll probably be in the hospital when it gets released. ... I like a good release party, so that's a little frustrating," he says. "But, at the same time, it's going to be a huge motivator to watch it grow and watch what it does in the meantime."

At first it burned McMahon not to be able to properly promote the record, but he's come to believe that everything happens for a reason. "And truthfully, for the first time, I feel like I made a record that could stand on its own."

It's that sort of positive thinking, McMahon's doctors say, that is helping him battle the leukemia. "It's not just medicine; it's how much you commit your head to actually fighting it and accepting what's going on and not crawling the walls," the singer explains.

McMahon has also turned to Lance Armstrong for inspiration. The iconic bicyclist was 25 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and he's been a proponent of cancer research ever since his miraculous recovery.

"There's definitely a lack of research for my age bracket, and obviously my hope in a lot of ways is that once I get through this in the next year that I can use whatever platform I have to stand on at that point to help raise awareness and help drive some funding toward this age bracket," McMahon says.

  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

  The American Cancer Society

  The National Cancer Institute Leukemia Homepage

  The National Marrow Donor Program

When McMahon was first starting to write songs outside of Something Corporate, he penned a tune called "Dear Jack" about a good friend's younger brother. The song never made the album, but inspired part of the name Jack's Mannequin (the "Mannequin" part came from a random conversation he had around the time). McMahon liked the two words together, but worried about having to explain the title constantly, so he vowed to avoid the questions.

When asked that afternoon in the studio, however, McMahon told the story for the first time. Jack, it turns out, is a 5-year-old boy battling leukemia.

"When I got diagnosed, I thought, 'OK, maybe this is some sort of weird tie-in, maybe I'll tell the story now,' " McMahon says. "So that's how Jack's Mannequin came to be. A little bizarre."

A month after recording "Katie," McMahon successfully received his sister's bone marrow. The surgery took place on August 23, the same day Everything in Transit hit stores. "It's the most perfectly bizarre coincidence of my life," he wrote the night before on his Web site.

Just before the procedure, McMahon launched Project Flip Flop, a nonprofit organization supporting the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. He's currently recuperating in a Los Angeles hospital and his doctors expect a full recovery.


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