Local musician leaves legacy for other musicians fighting for their lives

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Abigail Henderson, a well-known and well-loved musician in Kansas City, lost her five-year battle with cancer last week, but she's leaving behind a foundation she started that helps fellow musicians who are battling illness. It all started as a fundraiser to help in her fight with breast cancer but now it's Henderson's legacy.

In 2008, Henderson was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. She fought for five long years, her husband Chris Meck said it was longer than some thought possible.

"People who have what she had don't survive very often, it's rare and aggressive," he said, "she beat the odds so many times to get as far as she did."

Meck says when she first got sick her insurance fought her on covering anything.

"We would get a bill for 60-thousand dollars and the next day it was 47-thousand dollars and it was every day another bill of five figures," Meck said, "I don't know how anybody could pay that."

The music community rallied behind her with the first Apocalypse Meow fundraiser, and that ended up being the seed for the Midwest Music Foundation. Meck says slowly but surely MMF has gotten bigger every year. So far the foundation has given out 30-thousand dollars in emergency medical grants to musicians like David George. A few years ago he spent two weeks in the hospital and six weeks unable to work.

"They helped me out immensely, they didn't shower me with cash or anything but they helped me cover some bills and insurance and rent," he said, "that was the bridge that got me back on my feet."

Sondra Freeman got involved with MMF because she could relate to how a sudden illness can devastate you.

"I didn't ask for a brain aneurysm but half a million dollars later that is what it took to save my life," Freeman said.

Friends says this year's fundraiser will be difficult without Henderson there, but:

"Quitting is not an option," Freeman said, "if we quit she would find a way to make us sorry for it."

"She leaves a giant hole," said Meck, "but we all have to step up our game and fill in for her."

He says that's because Henderson never gave up on anything, especially living life to the fullest. And that's the other part of her legacy.

"You don't know how long you've got, so use every minute," Meck said.

Apocalypse Meow is the first weekend in November. For more information, head to the Midwest Music Foundation website: http://www.midwestmusicfound.org/



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