If there were two themes centering around year three of Rhonda’s Kiss, the all-star benefit show to raise money for cancer patients who can not afford care, it would be to rock and draw awareness to the disease. This year’s sold-out show at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on December 8 did just that. Best selling author and comedian Greg Behrendt hosted the event. Behrendt is also a cancer survivor who successfully battled Hodgkin’s B cell lymphoma.
Performing again this year were The Hellcat Saints, featuring Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) Billy Duffy (The Cult), Josh Fresse (Devo, Nine Inch Nails), Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), Franky Perez (Apocalyptica), Joey Castillo ( Queens of The Stone Age) and Scott Shriner (Weezer). Playing material by Tool, Alice In Chains, Thin Lizzy and The Cult, the all-star band whipped the headbanging audience into a hard rock/grunge frenzy. With lots of signs of the devil being shot up in the air, the crowd was clearly thrilled to be at this show, possessed by the wild abandon of the music performed.
Jane’s Addiction headlined Rhonda’s Kiss with a riveting and trance-inducing performance that left the crowd mesmerized. Perry Farrell is a such a unique, natural frontman and compelling artist, it was hard to take your eyes off him. The music remains as fresh and original to this day as it was back when the band formed in 1985. This particular performance marked 26 years ago since the band had played The Hollywood Palladium. Jane’s Addiction was one of the first bands from the early 1990s alternative rock movement to gain both mainstream media attention and commercial success in the U.S. Jane’s Addiction performed “Jane Says,” “Mountain Song,” and more from Nothing’s Shocking, as well as “Been Caught Stealing” and more from Ritual de lo habitual.
Prior to the show, tHeARTofla, caught up with Jane’s Addiction for a brief interview, where the group discussed their upcoming run of tour dates and the friendship with Dave Kushner that led to them to perform at the Rhonda’s Kiss benefit show. The band holds a strong belief in supporting worthwhile charitable causes such as this one, and they were up for something that combines charity with music. They feel in general everyone know someone who has or has had cancer and can’t help being touched and moved by the effect of the disease.
As the evening progressed, the mood became serious and took a somber tone with heartfelt and informative speeches about the help that Rhonda’s Kiss has provided cancer patients and families in need during the treatment process, including transportation to treatments, providing rent payments and much more. Marc A. Stefanski, husband and widower of Rhonda L. Stefanski and his son Kyle, executive director of the Mark A. and Rhonda L. Stefanski Foundation, spoke about their medical odyssey dealing with Rhonda’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. It was banding together as a family to cope with the disease which eventually led to the creation of Rhonda’s Kiss. Kyle Stefanski stressed the organization needs a Rhonda’s Kiss army to support the cancer patients and their families.
Dr. Amin Mirhadi, M.D. of Cedar Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, who is in partnership with Rhonda’s Kiss, also addressed the audience. Mirhadi discussed the method of treating the patient as a whole and utilizing immunotherapy. Prior to the show, tHeARTofla also briefly spoke to Mirhadi and he talked about the same thing in greater detail. A holistic approach includes care for patients that live beyond intensive treatments and last-stage cancer diagnosis. In essence, this treats the disease as more chronic. Care must manage the devastating side effects of treatments, and help the patient live the best and highest quality life possible.
Mirhadi was also the recipient of last year’s “Hope and Healing Award.” This year, he presented that prestigious honor to world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Keith L. Black M.D., Chairman and Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. Black was and has been a mentor and now a colleague of Mirhadi. Black spoke to the audience about teaching cancer patients how to live life in a meaningful way in the time they have. He stressed the focus should be on healing and love and not them having to worry about paying bills. Black also said finding a cure for cancer has become faster and more promising, and he wants to walk with the patients and their families step by step.
About Rhonda’s Kiss:
Rhonda’s Kiss is a recognized 501(c)(3). In 2014, Rhonda Stefanski was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. While she lost her battle, one of the greatest gifts she left was to create Rhonda’s Kiss, an event to raise money to help those in the inner city who receive a cancer diagnosis, but may be unable to make ends meet for treatment and support. Through the Rhonda’s Kiss Los Angeles event and with proceeds benefitting Cedars-Sinai, Rhonda’s Kiss events provide financial support to decrease late-stage cancer diagnosis in urban communities, and primarily for patients in financial need, by using a three-pronged approach, that integrates outreach (education, awareness and screening), navigation (medical and home) and patient services (treatment and financial assistance, and emotional support). Funds are distributed by local hospitals in areas where money is raised. For more information or to donate directly, contact: www.rhondaskiss.org.
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Rhonda’s Kiss