Feluke longing for better days
It was an interview The Sunday Gleaner had to reschedule several times over the course of a week, but when it finally materialised, the reason for the hold-up became evident. As we spoke to ailing reggae singer and percussionist Denver ‘Feluke’ Smith, his voice would often go to an almost inaudible tone. Through the pain, he mustered up every ounce of strength possible to speak about his painful experience for the last six years.
Since being diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2014, the entertainer has been in and out of hospital, undergoing intravenous treatments and surgeries to remove tumours and to rectify other problems caused by the cancer. The last set of treatments and surgeries were conducted in 2017 when Feluke travelled to Mexico to be assisted by experts. He responded well to the treatments and had been on the mend. Things were looking up for the entertainer, so much so that in that same year, he made his return to the stage, delivering a crowd-pleasing set at Reggae Sumfest. It seemed like Feluke may have gone through the worst, but in November last year, the singer started experiencing complications once more. His condition has worsened significantly since then.
“I came back from Mexico with fire. I was ready to get back into the groove of things. My doctors told me to get back into my normal routine as much as possible, and I was looking forward to the days ahead. It breaks my heart to know that I’m right back here again,” he said. “I’m back in my bed. I can’t walk for very long. Some days I literally fight to get up out of the bed to go outside and get some sunlight. Other days I’m so weak, I can’t even talk. The reality is I never ever thought I was past the worst because I’m educated about this whole cancer thing, but it’s just financially and emotionally exhausting.”
Feluke said that his condition has not only affected him, but has also taken a toll on his loved ones, who have to bear the gigantic burden of caring for him around the clock. “What hurts me the most is seeing other people hurting because I’m hurting. They are concerned about me and so willing to help in any way they can, and sometimes I just sit and cry when I see how much they have to do and how dedicated they are,” he said. “I love helping myself, and when I am sick, I can’t do that. People have to be assisting me, and it pains me to see them doing so much to take care of me. It makes me feel powerless, but I am grateful that I have people around me, supporting me in this fight and carrying the burden with me.”
Extremely grateful, Feluke expressed gratitude to the public for also standing by him during his trials. He told the Sunday Gleaner that he was apprehensive about coming out and once again asking for help from the public as he understands the economic hardship everyone is facing as a result of COVID-19. He says that the outpouring of support has warmed his heart. “Just seeing the love from everyone, how much they are reaching out and supporting me, makes me very grateful, and I can’t say thank you enough.”
Since November, when he started experiencing complications once more, Feluke’s kidneys have been blocked, and the singer is at risk of renal failure. Surviving these latest developments requires him to return to Mexico once more to undergo another round of treatments. A GoFundMe account has been set up in the entertainer’s name. The target has been set at US$25,000. So far, it has raised approximately $11,000 of the needed funds. The money will be used to offset the cost of treatment, travel, accommodation, and other miscellaneous expenses.