Kamilla Celebrates 10 Years by Giving Back

Kamilla wsg Johny Logic, Thunder Chicken, The Dead Last, The Storied Life, Fred Thompson Trio
The Intersection, Grand Rapids
Nov. 29, doors at 6 p.m.
$5-$8; Ages 16+
sectionlive.com; (616) 451-8232

Kamilla bassist Mike Smith had been living cancer-free after being diagnosed with stage-two melanoma in April 2012. That was until a devastating phone call came from his doctor a year later

The doctors at the Lacks Cancer Center in Grand Rapids removed a tumor and two lymph nodes from underneath Smith's right arm, thinking that the cancer was gone. But it returned.

"We were shocked to get the phone call," Smith said. "It was like exactly 12 months when we got the phone call that the cancer came back ... but it was worse."

He was diagnosed with stage 3C melanoma.

Since the diagnosis, Smith was put on a one-year treatment plan similar to chemotherapy, with a more extreme effect.

"Melanoma doesn't have many treatments...they remove this; they remove that, and that is about it," Smith said.

During this treatment plan, Smith is putting together a finance guide called Free and Clear Foundation. It has no charge, and helps with the process for those going through treatment for any stage of melanoma. Helping to back the cause is a benefit show with Smith's band, Kamilla.

"My intention is to start this foundation with the money being raised at the benefit show," Smith said.

The Free and Clear Foundation helps provide room and board to people that come to the Grand Rapids Lacks Cancer Center who otherwise could not afford it.

"If the foundation can help others who are going through this, it will make me feel good," Smith said. "I will know my purpose here."

Right now, the Free and Clear Foundation is in the works, taking baby steps until completion.

In the interim, Smith and his fellow band members are getting back together not only to raise money, but to also celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their album, Red.

The band, which consists of vocalist Jason Wood, guitarist Chris Hartley and Jim Borchers, drummer Troy Middlecamp and Smith, gained exposure when it won the "HeavyWeight Championship" for WKLQ. The band also won Aris' Hometown Rock Search, has played RockFest and opened for national artist such as KoRn, 30 Seconds to Mars, Clutch and Shinedown.