Nearly forty years ago I sat in a leather-backed chair mourning my lost youth as I was about to be a single mother in conservative Africa. The man who sat with me and saw me through my shame and lost dreams was Neil Diamond.

He sang about love and broken dreams and made me feel someone knew how I felt, as I was alone and condemned under archaic colonial rectitude. He sang about being lost and alone and he sang about courage, overcoming the future, and lost love.

Neil Diamond never knew his impact

Neil Diamond never knew he nurtured me through tears of rejection and the agony of abortion decisons and the joy of meeting my child for the first time.

He never knew the dark days he turned into light through his music. He never met me. He does not know me. But I feel like I know him.

Unknowing, Neil accompanied me through the trials of life. Through the pain and into the joy of motherhood, he was never far away. When I had cancer years later, as he has now, he was there for me telling me to never give up. I lay on that radiation treatment table and swore: "I am I said." "I am cried." It takes a lot to affirm life when you are alone in the radiation therapy room.

The loneliest place on the planet

It is the loneliest place on the planet. Is that why the radiologists chose to play Neil Diamond music through the speakers as the giant machine bombarded my body with radiation, that left that metallic taste in my throat and reminded me every day I was near to dying?

Take heart, Neil. Millions of your fans are there for you as you fight for your life. Can you even conceive of how many people your music helped through the hard times? Maybe you made your music just because you could, just because you had a talent. But it was your lyrics that struck me. You managed somehow to reach every person on the planet.

Neil Diamond - if we could reach you

If we could now reach through the ether and give you back the strength you gave us, that would be the most 'beautiful noise,' ever.

Sure 'Money talks,' and it will buy you the best treatment ever, but at the end of the day, it's not about treatment or the color-coded sheets on your hospital bed.

It's about those like you, and the love you have for life that gets you through the hard times.

After cancer, you can no longer go where the weather blows. Family and friends become so important. That "skipping over the ocean" comes home. Let people "stop and stare." They might just be shadows, but at the end of the day, thery are the ones who will take you to "where the sun keeps shining" - through their prayers.

You are going to go into cancer therapy and you will be alone and sad. That's when you are gonna want someone to sing to you. I hope you find those words that rhyme, the words that speak to you - as your words spoke to me.