Singer Back to Belting Tunes with Quartet after Conquering Cancer

By Bridget Blevins |

Published 11/13 2013 07:22PM

Updated 11/13 2013 07:37PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) They stood side by side on a Tuesday afternoon, running through various vocal drills to warm up.

It has become a weekly routine for Harold McCampbell, Don Ransom, Mike Scheidegger and Sandy Gumm.

Each has a strong, smooth voice that could stand on its own. But, together, they have something special.

"For me personally, it's probably the strongest bond I've ever had," said McCampbell.

At the heart of that bond, in the BassLine quartet, is Don Ransom.

"Don has a very deep, resonant voice. It's like a power house bass," said Gumm.

Ransom , now in his sixties, began singing when he was just a kid. He has developed his voice over years, taking his talents to the competitive level.

In fact, it was at a competition where he learned his passion would be put on hold. A vocal coach was showing him how to perfect his skills by feeling the muscles in his neck. That's when he noticed a lump the size of his thumb.

"I felt it and thought, 'well, what is that? It's probably nothing,'" he recalled.

His daughter talked him into a doctor's visit. He was told to keep an eye on the lump, but that didn't satisfy his family. A second opinion brought a diagnosis he wasn't expecting.

He remembers the words well.

"Oh, you have cancer," the first doctor told him.

From there, Ransom's treatment took him to the University of Kansas Hospital, where he began radiation and chemo therapy.

By the end of the first week, he was in a rough place.

"I felt pretty bad. On a Sunday night, I remember being extremely worried and depressed," he said.

And, wondering how the treatment would impact his singing.

"One of the first questions I had for the team of doctors was 'what is this going to do to my voice?'"

Dr. Christopher Lominska, a Radiation Oncologist at KU Hospital, said the first priority was killing the cancer.

"We recommended a treatment approach that would both preserve talking and swallowing and maximize his chance of cure," said Dr. Lominska.

Dr. Lominska and his team also did everything they could to protect Ransom's voice, but the treatment took a toll.

"My throat was so raw and everything was new in it. I couldn't sing at all. I remember one Sunday morning, leaving church, because I couldn't sing a simple hymn. I was very frustrated. I walked out side. I was mad, angry," said Ransom.

But, he didn't give up. He had his life thanks to a team of doctors and he wasn't about to let his singing go silent.

"I had good friends who I sing with in the quartet who were perfectly willing to put up with the squeaky, bad voice that I had for a while," remembered Ransom.

His brothers in BassLine said they never considered replacing him in the quartet.

"We were going to do everything we could to make sure that he could get back into it," said Gumm.

"We were all quite concerned of course, but all keeping our fingers crossed because we sure didn't want to lose him," added McCampbell, who is also a cancer survivor.

So, with patience and persistence, Ransom is now singing again. And, he's cancer free.

He and the BassLine quartet are looking forward to the Christmas season with several upcoming performances in the area.

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