NORMAN — Michael Loveland had a sore throat.
His bandmates encouraged him to go easy on his trademark yowl during practices, but the problem persisted. When he made it to the doctor, he was scheduled for a tonsillectomy. On the day of his surgery, however, 30-year-old Loveland — husband and father, son and brother — was given a new diagnosis, much scarier than what he’d anticipated.
“The type of cancer Michael has is very aggressive and is a somewhat rare form of lymphoma,” said Ruth Loveland, Michael’s wife, a noted Oklahoma artist and mother of their son Asher, 4. “It required immediate in-hospital treatment. We had very little time to prepare financially, emotionally and logistically for the challenges that this diagnosis brings.”
One of the first to mobilize in support was longtime family friend Sarah Carson, whose husband, Eric, has known Michael Loveland for 15 years. Carson set up a fundraising site just days after hearing about the diagnosis and only two days before Loveland started treatment.
“I know from having family members with cancer that sometimes people don’t know what they need, what to ask for, when they are going through something so difficult,” Carson said. “We wanted to offer something specific and tangible as a way to lift them up. We were blown away by the response.”
The response was indeed swift and humbling: The fundraising page for Loveland went live May 6 and a mere 48 hours later had surpassed its fundraising goal of $20,000 — and continues to climb.
“It’s providing the money for the initial medical expenses that insurance doesn’t cover — and for me to take a leave of absence from my job,” Ruth Loveland said.
“Our families have pledged a lot of support as well, but with the community chipping in, it alleviates the stress that ripples through to our more immediate relatives. He has a long road to the end of treatment and recovery, but the support is fortifying us for the journey.”
If you are involved at all, even as an observer, with the arts community in Norman, it’s likely you have some tangential connection to the Lovelands. Ruth’s paintings hung near the entrance of the original Forward Foods. She has a studio downtown that is often open for Norman’s Second Friday circuit of Art Walk.
Michael Loveland’s bands have played frequently in the area, including at the Norman Music Festival.
“I know that Michael and Ruth have built such a community around them through music and art and just their loving, generous spirits,” Carson said. “It was amazing to watch the way everyone came together.”
On May 22, The Deli in Norman, independently of Carson’s efforts, hosted an American Cancer Society benefit show, with some of the proceeds going to the Loveland family. Performers at that show included Camille Harp, Kyle Reid and John Calvin, who also drums for Loveland’s band Poolboy.
Calvin will step up to the plate again Saturday, as Norman’s Opolis hosts “Share the Love,” a benefit show featuring a who’s who of Oklahoma musicians, all of whom wanted to do what they could for Loveland the best way they know how.
Event organizers include Will Muir (of Loveland’s employer Guestroom Records), Patrick Roberts (of Loveland’s band Early Beat) and Sean Barker, of Early Beat and Poolboy.
“Just a few days after the GoFundMe thing came up, I was thinking we ought to put a benefit show on because he loves music,” Barker said. “It seems like the most perfect thing we could do for him. I asked Andy (Nunez, of Opolis), and he said other people had already asked the same thing.”
More than money
Among Saturday’s roster of bands is the technically defunct garage rock act S-----/Awesome — a reunion that requires drummer and Guestroom Records owner Travis Searle to visit Norman from Louisville, Ky., where he moved last year. Also on the bill are rare solo performances by Josh Jones (Evangelicals) and Ryan Lindsey (BRONCHO). Barker will perform with Transformer, a local supergroup performing Lou Reed’s classic record of the same name.
“It was just a question of, ‘Can we do anything for him?’” Barker said.
Although those with the means to provide money contribute via the online fundraiser, Barker is hoping that, in addition to raising some cash, the video and photos of the Opolis show will lift Michael Loveland’s spirits.
“What Michael is going through right now is somewhat a solo mission, but the healing impact of having such a solid base to lift up our family is beyond words,” Ruth Loveland said. “I could only hope that anyone in a similar situation could have the kind of friends and family that have shown us immense kindness and helped to take some of the tailspin out of this situation.
“We have wonderful, talented and smart friends who own businesses, make music, are passionate about art — and to see them use all of their strengths to make the various benefit events happen makes us so happy and so grateful for the bonds in our community.”
cancer benefit show
Brothels, Shutdown Shutouts, Transformer,
Pizza Thieves, Ryan Lindsey, Josh Jones, Penny Hill, Jeff Richardson and John Calvin.
We have wonderful, talented and smart friends who own businesses, make music, are passionate about art — and to see them use all of their strengths to make the various benefit events happen makes us so happy and so grateful for the bonds in our community.”