The Rider

December 23, 2010

Alex and Kate’s New York Adventure

Filed under: Alex Kip — Tags: , , , — The Blog @ 9:54 AM

This is Chapter 2 of our on-going series about Alex Kip, 23, and his battle to beat cancer.

It was a whirlwind trip to New York City, one that included a Broadway show and cast party, walking hand-in-hand with his girlfriend through crowded Rockefeller Center, a reunion party with his college classmates, the Rockettes, and services at one of the world’s largest gothic churches.

Alex, Kate ... and Rockefeller Center in all of its holiday glory

Picture the trip as a movie, and imagine the montage of scenes of Alex tearing up the Big Apple. Take a few seconds, I’ll wait …

But all good things, Including NYC trips and even our imaginary movie, must come to an end, and ours concludes with Alex and Kate flying back to Columbus on Tuesday morning.

“It’s funny because right when we got into the airport and headed to baggage, the first thing you see is this huge James cancer banner talking about all the treatments they have,” Alex says. “I thought to myself, ‘I guess I’m back,’ I can’t escape it.”

Alex’s trip was an escape from his on-going struggle with cancer, a long weekend filled with fun and reunions. And when it was over, and he returned home, Alex knew he was set to start a battery of scans and tests (which began yesterday) to determine the best course of action to destroy the mass of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Type B) cancer in his chest. If all goes well, Alex will soon undergo a stem cell transplant.

“Yeah, I had this window of opportunity and wanted to take advantage of it,” Alex says of his decision to head to New York.

The trip was a bit on the bittersweet side for another reason. If it weren’t for his cancer, which was diagnosed in April, Alex would be living the dream in New York, struggling to make ends meet and auditioning for Broadway shows with the rest of the recent graduates from the University of Michigan’s renowned Department of Musical Theatre. They’re known as the Michigan Mafia on Broadway, and rare is the show that doesn’t include at least one member of this elite group of singers and dancers.

Alex is the only one of the 16 May 2010 graduates who is not in New York right now. Twelve of the 16 met up for a reunion party – and three of the missing four couldn’t make it because they were on tour with a show.

“When everyone was together it really kind of hit me that they’re here and I’m not and they’re healthy and I’m not and they’re living the dream and I’m not,” he says. “But they’re also all struggling to make it, so part of me is jealous and part of me thinks that struggling to make ends meet and pay rent and go through all the auditions isn’t that much fun.”

But make no mistake, if it wasn’t for his cancer, this is where Alex would be – and where he will be once his battle is won. And the struggle to make it on Broadway, he knows, is something he will look back on fondly one day.

“I was a little nervous at first seeing everyone,” Alex says. “But it was so normal, like I’d been here the whole time, even though I hadn’t and hadn’t seen most of them in months. Everyone just treated me normal and my cancer wasn’t really a topic of conversation. Obviously, everyone knows I have it, and they were wishing me well, but they know I’m sick of hearing ‘how is everything, how are you?’ all the time.”

Alex and Kate went to see Memphis, the Tony-Award winning musical, whose cast includes two of Alex’s Michigan classmates: Sydney Morton, who graduated in 2008, and Bryan Langlitz, a 2009 graduate.

The Broadway hit Memphis was great, and after the show Alex met up with his friends Sydney (L) and Bryan (R), who are members of the cast

Afterwards, Alex and Kate joined the cast for their weekly Saturday night party in the theater, and then a nearby bar.

Sunday morning included a trip to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, which is located on the Upper West Side, not far from Aunt Carlotta’s apartment, which is where he stayed. Later that day, there was a mini-Kip reunion with Aunt Carlotta and Aunt Stephanie and Grandpa Rolf, who came in together from New Jersey.

Sunday night was the Department of Musical Theatre reunion party, which didn’t end until about 3:00 Monday morning.

“We slept in Monday morning, until about noon,” Alex says. Then came a trip to the Radio City Christmas Special, featuring the Rockettes, and then another round of parties with his Michigan friends. Alex and Kate eventually wound up at open mic night at the Village Underground.

Alex had a chance to spend some time with his grandfather, Rolf Kip

“That was one of the highlights of the trip,” Alex says. “You put your name on the list, with the name of the song you’re going to sing and the band is incredible and knows every song.”

This too was a bit bittersweet, as Alex’s cancerous mass has wreaked havoc on his vocal chords – and singing voice.

Once again, the evening ended in the wee hours of the following morning.

“We had to wake up at 7 a.m. to get our plane, which is God-awful early when you were up until 3,” Alex says.

A few hours later, he was in Port Columbus Airport, walking by the James banner.

“It was an amazing trip, so exhilarating and I can’t believe it’s over already,” Alex says. “I got home and was so exhausted I pretty much passed out and slept.”

Click here to read Chapter 1 of Alex’s story.

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