I’ve got recurrent endometrial cancer. I had two lots of surgery – the second one led to complications and I was sent home with palliative care to ‘spend time with my
family’. I was not expected to survive, but my husband looked after me so well that I did. I’m now two years down the line. Us people with cancer, we live from scan to
scan, we don’t know what the next six months will bring. I have a great medical team that look after me very well. I have lived with it long enough to come to terms with it
but wanted to leave my husband with something more of me.

When The Swan Song Project came up on my Facebook feed, I thought that’s a really good idea – I liked the ethos. I’m quite isolated as I am immuno-compromised. I used to be chair of an arts
collective but I had to resign as I can’t be in a room full of people. For me being able to have my sessions online was very interesting. I’m not very good with tech but I’ve
been surprised that so much could be achieved without me going anywhere.

My second surgery left me with a compromised lung and diaphragm. I’ve been a singer all my life – the diaphragm is really important to any singer but mine doesn’t
work properly. I was worried that I would never be able to hold a note but the songwriter I worked with – Holly – was so encouraging that I was imbued with a new

On the technical side I thought ‘how the hell are we going to do this?’ I actually went and got a microphone. I was so thrilled to be part of a creative project again. I did
haver about doing this. I’m an artist. I have good friends who enable me to do a bit of work and get it out there but I don’t have the energy that I used to. I need to be
feeding that creative side of me – doing the song satisfied that creative need.

Me and Holly spent quite a long time talking about all the stuff I used to do; my musical influences and the music I enjoyed: Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin, so many. My time is bedded in there – rock – things that I enjoyed. I’m one of England’s biggest Eagles fans – particularly Don Henley. I like good words. As a songwriter he puts together beautiful words. Somewhere in my head, I wanted to write something that I wouldn’t be ashamed of if he heard it. I was thinking of him a lot – how he works, how his songs were put together – when I was writing my song. So he was definitely an inspiration regarding the lyrics, which I tried to write with a rhythm.

Holly somehow managed to convey all of the things that I liked to one of the Swan Song Project musicians – Mark. And a small miracle occurred because everything that Holly passed on about what formed my musical tastes, led to Mark creating the most amazing track. Mark must be very intuitive as he’d obviously grasped immediately what the song needed. When the mix came back it was amazing. Wow. The slide guitar – I love slide guitar – just like Joe Walsh. Once the music came in I felt it was in safe hands – it was down to me to produce enough material to make a finished product. You bed yourself into the music. When I felt better from a physical point of view, I felt comfortable and put in my own nuances in how I delivered the song. It did take quite a while but in the end I did learn how to get around the problems.

Holly was so patient and made helpful suggestions. She understood that I couldn’t just churn it out on a conveyor belt – some days I was too exhausted to do anything – but we got into a rhythm of working together as she was so understanding. I had to do quite a lot of takes due to my lungs – I can’t sustain long breaths but we worked out ways to get round it. I had to break down the song into component parts and the finished song is actually from three different takes. I got a bit better at doing it – especially after a good night’s sleep! Clever how they put it all together.

I’m really pleased with it – as soon as I heard the music I knew it was going to be good. I wondered whether it would just be a guitar in the background…. but other layers came through and I was like oh wow… I felt like I was singing with a band again. From being nervous at the beginning I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. I shall be forever grateful I made the decision to go ahead and do it. Since I started singing again it’s actually helped my breathing. It’s been not only a psychological boost but a physical aid as an exercise.

I think there might be a lot of people who like the idea of doing something like this but they are too frightened. Not the sort of people that have stood on a stage … but in fact anyone can do it. My singing teacher used to tell me that there’s no such thing as people who can’t sing… just people who haven’t practised enough. Even if you didn’t sing that much, you could speak the words with a musical background – just go for it! People can surprise themselves if they try. You might not be here tomorrow. I’ll tell you something – because of the advent of Zoom. Although you are removed from people, it’s amazing the relationships you can develop on Zoom with people that you have never met. You can get a long way in getting to know each other whilst preserving your safety if you are immune compromised. I have done a lot of singing in my life but it’s very private here in my little space. When I stand up to my
microphone I get a little nervous about how it’s going to go but, if it’s rubbish, I can delete it. I don’t need to send it to Holly. I can do another take. People can just do a bit of it at a time. You can leave your voice in the song.

It is a really good project. I’m sure that many people would gain a lot from it. It’s a very cathartic thing to do – it’s good to get your feelings out. No better way to do it than through music. Many people choose to leave letters for their loved ones. It’s perfectly understandable. But words can sometimes look very stark on a page – but wrapped in beautiful music, they are a gift.


Rainie Kay.


Hear Rainies Song “I’ll Still be singing to you” here


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