Cassandra Kerr has been to every show her favorite band, Long Island’s own punk-pop heroes Patent Pending, played in her hometown of Reeders, Penn. since she was 13. Now 19 and being treated for cancer, she had to skip the band’s latest show in nearby Stroudsburg.
Her father, Paul, knew he had to do something to lift his daughter’s spirits. So he emailed Joe Ragosta, the lead singer of Patent Pending, explaining his daughter’s situation.
“I lost my source of income and my social life in a very short period of time,” Cassie said of being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and her continuing treatment of chemotherapy followed by painful injections.
Coping with the fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and–worst of all for a teenage girl–hair loss, Cassie was devastated that her treatments forced her to miss the show. It was just another thing she loved taken from her in her battle with cancer.
“Her boyfriend just kind of disappeared, even though he promised no matter what he would stay by her side.” Paul said. “That totally broke her.”
All but one of Cassie’s friends abandoned her. The isolation of having cancer, it turned out, can be just as difficult as the chemo.
“I was hoping for a signed T-Shirt or a CD,” Paul recalled of his message to the band. “Within minutes I got an answer.”
And the answer was not what Paul had expected. If she couldn’t make it to the show, then Patent Pending would bring the show to Cassie, as her friends call her (pronounced KC).
In the days that followed, Cassie had no idea her father and her favorite band were secretly making plans for a private show in her home. Her family had told her that an uncle from out of town had come to visit and was at her grandmother’s house next door.
When asked about what happened next Cassie’s voice suddenly became bright.
“I saw Joe [Ragosta] and Rob [Felicetti, guitarist for Patent Pending] standing there in my Grandma’s living room,” she remembered. “I just stopped. I was so shocked they were there.”
Ragosta said the meeting was emotional for all involved.
“I thought I knew what chemotherapy was, but when she walked over to us she walked so slow…” Ragosta said. “As soon as she saw us she started to cry. Then I started to cry.”
They sat Cassie down and told her to pick any songs she wanted. This was her show.
She picked “One Less Heart to Break,” a song about a teen struggling with thoughts of suicide. Ragosta, tears still fresh on his face, looked over at Felicetti on the guitar and told him: “Just play, I’ll sing when I’m able.”
Cassie requested “Second Family,” a the lyrics of which remind fans that “We can face any storm together.” The band then played “Douchebag,” rebellious song written about people who are too self-centered to recognize the needs of others around them.
Ragosta’s cell phone later rang and a voice on the other end told him the opening act was on stage at The Sherman Theater. The band rushed back to the theater, making it just in time to step out on stage. They pressed on through their set list until they reached the song “Second Family.”
Ragosta stopped mid-song and told the audience about Cassie’s struggle. He took out his cell phone.
“As soon as we told the story and said we were going to call her, people in the crowd started crying,” he said. “It was just one more way to bring the show to her.”
Then Patent Pending and the audience of The Sherman Theater sent a simple message… “We Love You Cassie,” a message that she will never forget.
As Cassie moves forward with her treatment she does so with a renewed spirit. “I just want to be able to go to shows again, hang out with friends and have my life back.”
She’s at the half-point of her struggle. But, the experience has given her renewed strength to carry on.
Cassie said: “It made me think keep fighting, because there is so much in life worth fighting for.”