About Cy Rawls
Once in a lifetime, we get the chance to meet a person who spends most
of his time in the background yet teaches us a great deal about ourselves and
what it means to be alive. Cy Rawls was that person. Though generally quiet
and unassuming, Cy was everywhere: rock shows, football games, parties,
weddings, get-togethers, basketball games -- often all of these in different
cities on the same day. He would slip in unannounced, say “hello,” have
some fun, and slip away without fanfare. He was a dedicated music fan, always
sure after a show to tell bands he loved that he thought they played well. He
knew music and loved music, sharing it with all of us through his radio show
on WXYC. Cy was also such a dedicated fan of UNC football that, until he got
sick, he had not missed a home game since the early 1990s.
On July 12, 2008, Cy Rawls had a seizure that began a ride none of us was prepared for. After extensive testing by top doctors at Duke Medical Center’s Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Cy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. An operation revealed that his tumor was invasive and his brain tissue was infected with cancer. Cy’s friends rallied. They started the Cy Rawls Updates blog (cyrawls.blogspot.com) to post information because so many friends had shown interest in his well-being. Within a week, word of Cy’s cancer had spread so far and wide that his blog had received nearly 5,000 hits. Word of his illness was posted on blogs and Web sites all over the country. Facebook pages worldwide posted status messages hoping for Cy’s quick recovery. His friends rallied with incredible speed to raise money for their friend, who had no health insurance. His friends in rock bands came together to play benefit concerts in Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh, as well as Fairfax, VA, and New York City. Local favorites Superchunk and The Rosebuds played, as well as Polvo, Double Negative, and many, many more. Fund raisers were hosted in the forms of film viewings, stand-up comedy nights, dance parties, bake sales and trivia nights, just to name a few. The money raised was placed into a benevolence fund for Cy’s hospital bills.
In the ten weeks of Cy’s illness, he attended as many of these events as he could, even performing a stand-up comedy bit and singing for the Cy Rawlstars shortly before his death. Though a bit weakened by chemo and radiation therapies, Cy attended rock shows and parties, a few more UNC football games with his father, spent quality time with his friends and family and generally enjoyed his life as he always had -- just a little more slowly. He made the most out of his last ten weeks and taught many of us the importance of appreciating our friends and the support we get from them. Cy lived much longer than the doctors thought he would. He passed peacefully at Duke Medical Center on October 3, 2008, surrounded by family and a few friends. We all hate that it took cancer for us to tell Cy how important he was to us, but he died with strength and grace. He told us he loved us, and we told him we loved him. CyTunes is our way of honoring Cy and all those like him. --Kerry Cantwell