When Rebecca Bates shared the news she had stage two breast cancer in the spring of 2013, her family was worried. For the next year, her husband, Kevin Bates, and children, Gavin and Grace, now 11 and 9 respectively, struggled with their fears as they supported her through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
So, when in spring of this year, Bates was declared cancer free, Grace wanted to do something that would support other families struggling with the same illness.
“Everyone was bringing my mother dinner and doing nice things and supporting her,” she said. “I wanted to do something to support the other families that had cancer.”
So she told her mother about her dream.
“I was just really touched, and kind of taken back at how much my cancer had touched her,” Bates said. “I don’t know if I had been so self-absorbed that year, but all of sudden I realized she was really paying attention. Gracie saw all of the kindness and thoughtfulness of others, so she was inspired to do something to give back to others.”
“I jumped right on it, and I said let’s see what we can do,” she said. “She’s such a musician, and I sing locally, and I said, ‘You know what, girl, we could do something in music.’”
They hit upon the idea of recording a CD of Christmas music and inspirational readings from the Bible.
“I love to sing,” Grace said. “My mom is a singer and we sing together. I thought Christmas music would make people happier and it’s a good Christian message.”
Grace loved the idea. A CD was a great way to create something could buy and listen to, she said.
Bates, who had some experience in recording, said she knew if they wanted to have the CD ready for sale in December, they would have to start work on it in June. The recording sessions were held at the Johnson Brothers Studio in Covington, and John Johnson played keyboard on one of the five songs. Dan and Peri Walden, friends of Bates from First Presbyterian Church in Covington, played guitar and provided background vocals on another song. Grace’s brother, Gavin, narrates the four Biblical verses that introduce four of the five songs recorded.
“Originally, we were going to make a lot more songs, but studio work is hard work and she really worked,” Bates said. “We realized she was good for about two or two and half hours [recording] at a time.”
Having to talk to the children about cancer was difficult, Bates said. “My husband was fabulous. We would talk with them together as a family and tell them it was serious, but we didn’t want them to worry. You don’t want to say we don’t have a guarantee [treatment will work], but we didn’t want to give them false hope.
“Cancer is scary,” she said. “We tried to encourage [the children] to continue doing what they normally did. It brought us closer together as a family. It has given them something they have shared. They’ve been in the trenches, so they’re both very aware and conscientious of people who have cancer.
“They both have very tender hearts,” she said.
Money raised from sales of the CD, “Hope for Christmas,” will be used to purchase gifts cards to give to local families dealing with cancer.
“We know several from church, several from school,” Bates said, adding that gift cards had been very helpful for the family when she was going through treatment.
“I’m just really proud of her,” she said. “I feel like she’s taken a tragedy and turned around and done something positive. She’s touching lives.”
So far, Grace said, the $10 CD has raised $680. The CD can be purchased at stores such as The Cork Boutique, Lisa Miller Pediatrics, Shear Bliss, Charmed and McKibben Music on the square in Covington. It is also available for sale at the Bates’ “Hope for Christmas” website and blog.