Sheepdogs drummer Sam Corbett poses in front of patterned wallpaper
Sam CorbettImage by: Sam Corbett
Sheepdogs drummer Sam Corbett poses in front of patterned wallpaper
7 April 2023

Sheepdogs drummer Sam Corbett debuts new solo album chronicling his testicular cancer journey

Sam Corbett
3 minutes read time

GIVEAWAY: Enter for a chance to a signed vinyl of Sam Corbett’s new solo album, ‘NUTANA’. To enter, ‘Like’ and leave a comment about something you’ve learned during testicular cancer awareness month on either our Facebook or Twitter post.

Contents runs from from 11:00AM (EDT) on 7 April 2023 and will end at approximately 11:00AM (EDT)on 5 May 2023. Find full giveaway details here.

I had just turned 34, my wife was about 4 months pregnant with our first child, and my band The Sheepdogs were in the middle of a tour when I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was pretty scary at the time – not knowing what lay ahead – and thinking about my future daughter who was on the way and what this could mean for our family.

Fast forward to now and I’ve been cancer free for the last 4 and a half years. It’s given me a greater appreciation of my life and made me want to lead a more fulfilling life going forward. For me, this has meant living a healthier lifestyle, getting into meditation. But the biggest effect it had is that it made me realize that I wanted to create and release an album of my own songs. This has been a dream of mine for my entire life, but having cancer forced me to make it more of a priority.

When I was doing my radiation therapy, I was too weak to play the drums (I played for 15 minutes one day, and I had to have a two-hour nap), so instead I would play the piano, and I ended up writing a bunch of chord changes and melodies. Later, when I was back on tour with The Sheepdogs, I started to write some lyrics to go with these songs, and it was then that I realized that a lot of these songs were really about my cancer diagnosis and treatment. Nutana is the neighbourhood in Saskatoon where I grew up. I knew I wanted to use a pseudonym for my solo/side project album, so this just seemed like a good fit.

" A cancer diagnosis can have many profound effects on your life, but not all of them are going to be negative. "

Many of the songs in the album relate to my cancer journey. One song, “Ave H Blue”, is about the couple of months when I was undergoing my radiation treatment, and I was at home while the rest of the band was on tour with a substitute drummer.

Another, called “By Your Side”, was written for my daughters. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, the thing that bothered me the most was the idea that I might not be around long enough for them to remember me. So, this song is a message to them that I’ll always love them, even if I’m not around to say it.

I don’t think I had fully processed my diagnosis and treatment until I started writing songs and lyrics about it, and then creating the songs in the studio certainly gave me even more time to reflect on it. I think it was really just another way of telling my story, and it served the same function that talking to a friend might have.

My message to other men about their health is that you have to put your health first. I almost postponed my cancer treatment so that I wouldn’t have to miss out on a couple Sheepdogs tours. It was very difficult to see the band play shows without me, since I’m a founding member, and had never missed a show before. But to delay my treatment and risk having the cancer spread to other parts of my body is ridiculous, and I’m glad I made the right decision in the end.

When I first felt a lump in the shower, testicular cancer was on my radar, because my grandpa had it. My hope is that by sharing my story – whether through the songs on NUTANA or this article -- that hopefully it’s on more people’s radar, so that if they feel something when they’re in the shower, they are less likely to ignore it and more likely to get it checked out.