As a young boy growing up in Miami, Eric Alexandrakis was surrounded by music.
Born to two professors— a mother with a Ph.D in philosophy and father who is a departmental head of the University of Miami physics department— Alexandrakis grew up on the UM campus and immersed himself in music from an early age.
He attended UM until 1996, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and English literature and then a master’s in music business. After graduation, Alexandrakis began working on his first album, “9 Demos on a 4 Track.” Soon after, he began experiencing sharp, persistent pains in his chest that forced him to go to the hospital.
Then, at just 24 years old, Alexandrakis was diagnosed with cancer.
With no job, no money and no insurance, Alexandrakis spent six months of chemotherapy recording music with using various household objects and limited musical equipment. These recording sessions were compiled into “I.V. CATATONIA,” which was released as a separate CD at the time but now makes up track 58 of his newest project.
“Creating music was the best way to pass the time,” said Alexandrakis. “I’m an optimist about everything, even the impossible.”
The final album, now titled “I.V. CATATONIA: 20 Years As a Two-Time Cancer Survivor,” consists of 61 tracks. Most of the work explains Alexandrakis’ life, and all songs are self-narrated using a lo-fi microphone. At the end of the album there are full, uninterrupted versions of music albums “9 Demos on a 4 Track” and “I.V. CATATONIA.”
Though Alexandrakis used his time in chemotherapy as a creative outlet, the experience wasn’t easy. And shortly after “I.V. CATATONIA’s” release that year, he experienced another hardship: his cancer came back.
Alexandrakis spent a month in a germ-free hospital room, undergoing seven blood and platelet transfusions, multiple chemotherapies and a stem-cell transplant. After editing the final version of the album this year, he recalled how hard it was to revisit his past memories.
“When you have all that stuff regurgitating as you’re editing, it’s a really unpleasant experience,” said Alexandrakis. “[Reliving] it was this deluge of negative emotion. It was really strange, and I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
Because of his two experiences with cancer, Alexandrakis was inspired to share his album with others going through similar experiences. He has given “I.V. CATATONIA” out for free to hundreds of cancer patients and said he hopes that those going through similar experiences can find comfort in his music.
“I want to get it to as many cancer patients as possible, for free,” said Alexandrakis. “I think everyone should be encouraged as much as possible, whatever the stage, whatever the situation.”
His advice to cancer patients, their family and friends or anyone going through something similar, is this: “Use time wisely, eat right, try something creative to pass the time. Channel the bad into something good, but most of all, try to stay positive.”
“I.V. CATATONIA: 20 Years As a Two-Time Cancer Survivor” is available for download on iTunes and Apple Music. For those whose lives are impacted by cancer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a private link for a free download.