Don Braden will never forget an exchange he had with a surgeon a few years ago, because it was the most devastating news he’d ever received. In 2014 Braden noticed a lump in his throat. He went from one specialist to another, but none of them could figure out what it was. Then, finally, one did: It was a cyst, on the inside of his jaw. “If it’s cancerous, we’re going to have to take out your whole jaw,” he was told.
“But I’m a saxophone player,” replied Braden, who had only recently turned 50. “If the biopsy proves positive, you’d better take up the piano,” he recalls the doctor saying. “You’re gonna be done.”