Sitting in a hospital room in Irving, 54-year-old Bruce Corbitt prepares to announce the end of his dream as the frontman for local metal band Warbeast. His hair ratted, black heavy-metal T-shirt replaced with a loose-fitting hospital gown, Corbitt looks into his cellphone and does his best to hold back the tears that have been falling since he got the news that the pecan-shaped tumor in his throat is esophageal cancer.
“I’m going to do everything I can to beat this,” he says in a Facebook live video he posted Wednesday morning. “But I, uh … I know it’s not looking good with the long-term outcome.” He takes a deep breath and lets it out. “I will try my best, and I promise all of you that.
“The sad part is,” he continues, “I obviously had to ask about my singing career because of Warbeast and the new album and the shows and all that. If anything, I was like, 'Man, can I just do that one more show,' you know?” He looks up and away before he looks back at the camera and says, “I don’t think I’m going to get to do that.”
Corbitt was rushed to the hospital Sunday, May 21, after he passed out at home and came to hearing his wife, Jeanna, screaming to a 911 operator in panic. She told him that he’d been unresponsive for a while. He was also pale, weak and sweaty. He posted from his hospital bed later that evening that he still couldn’t stand up without passing out and soon discovered he had some serious bleeding.
“My wife is here with me," he posted a couple of hours later. "She brought me back twice when I was unresponsive. Luckily she heard me scream from downstairs when I had those couple of seconds to cry for help.”
Early on Monday, May 22, Corbitt discovered he would have to stay for a few days to do a scope test to find out why he was bleeding.
“Hoping for it to be least serious,” he wrote. “Worst case, of course, is life threatening.”
Corbitt had already faced a life-threatening issue last year when he battled heart disease. He has made so many trips to the ER that he joked about the staff knowing him by name as he continued to provide updates for his loved ones and fans.
“Still losing blood inside somewhere,” he posted at 9:11 a.m. Monday. “Blood transfusion becoming a better chance.”
A few hours later, he shared a meme of Batman with the words “Batman wins” under the caped crusader’s picture. “Haven’t met my match yet when it comes to health problems,” Corbitt wrote. “This one won’t beat me either!”
Corbitt’s Facebook friends replied to his posts with words of encouragement, some of them providing links to lift his spirits, including one with the headline “C33 Esophageal Cancer can Rick Simpson Oil help or cure it.”
And his hopes were raised a couple of hours later when he posted that his blood levels had gone up slightly, and he offered some other reasons why he might be bleeding.
“So still could be something like a minor tear, the baby aspirin I’ve been taking to fight my heart condition,” he posted at 2:22 p.m. Monday. “Or the over amount of stress I’ve been through in recent days. Or, of course, it could still be numerous other things, but hopefully it’ll be something not so serious.”
Jeanna stayed by his side, posting photos of Corbitt resting in his hospital bed with his Batman blanket covering him. He thanked her on Facebook, calling her his “miracle worker.”
Then his blood levels began to drop again Tuesday morning.
“Sneer at death, fear only loss of pride," he wrote a couple of hours later. "Cowards die many times before their death. But the valiant never taste of death but once.”
He received a blood transfusion. Scopes followed. Then the worst news possible: an esophageal tumor.
Corbitt pointed out in a Facebook post that esophageal cancer is a treatable disease but rarely curable and that the occasional patient with very early disease has a better chance of survival.
“Devastated!” he wrote. “I’m doomed and my time is short. Love y’all!”
Fans' responses were immediate.
“I’m unable to light a physical blue candle at this time, so I’m lighting this virtual candle for our brother Bruce Corbitt in his time of he need,” one posted on his wall. “He is in need of extreme healing, and it [is] with this virtually lit blue candle that I send my intentions to the Universe to hear my request and call healing.”
Many fans and loved ones posted on his wall asking people to pray for him. Others shared photos of Corbitt smiling or throwing up his metal pose with his hand reaching out as if he’s offering to take you on a heavy-metal ride you’ll never forget. “We’re with you, Batman,” they all seemed to say.
“I can’t even begin to explain my feelings,” Corbitt wrote a few hours later. “You guys have given me the strength I need to prepare for this fight. Honestly, I was close to losing hope that there was any good to come out of this. Of course I’m scared for my life like any normal human would be.
“Those moments when I can get on Facebook and scroll through all of your messages,” he added, “the emotion takes over. I cry. I get stronger. I also realize what all of you mean to me. I do believe in the power of prayer and positive vibes. I have all of you to thank for that.”
Corbitt then explained that he had some good news but warned everyone not to jump to conclusions. He claimed the tumor hadn’t spread to other parts of his body, and his latest blood test showed that he wasn’t losing any more blood. But he reminded everyone that the bleeding would come and go.
“So they do fear that this tumor will start bleeding again,” he wrote. “That is actually the biggest concern about a possible sudden fatal incident.”
Fans and loved ones continued to post memes of Corbitt in the throes of unleashing his metal as a member of both Warbeast and Rigor Mortis, along with words of encouragement. Some recalled how he helped them when he told the Observer about his experience with heart disease in March and the simple heart test that saved his life.
Then he unleashed the bombshell early this morning.
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“Well, the little bit of good news didn’t last long,” Corbitt wrote. “There’s a chance it has actually spread.”
A couple of hours later he posted the Facebook live video announcing his retirement and updating fans on his condition. And fans and loved ones began to share his video and post their responses to his moving words.
“It’s a cosmic shame that bad shit happens to good people and assholes live forever,” one fan wrote. “This is such horrible news, but a fighting chance is worth fighting for. We’re with you Bruce!”
Yes, we are.