Guy Few knows what it means to fight back against an illness that took away almost everything that was dear to him.
For many years Few, who grew up in Saskatoon and is one of the most celebrated classical musicians to come from the province, has been dealing with tumour-like growths in his brain that have profoundly affected him.
I lost my ability to speak, to play the piano, to play the trumpet, lost my fine motor skills and lost the majority of my language — both French, German and English. - Guy Few
Back in 1990 Few lost his language, motor skills and his ability to play the piano and trumpet.
"Many years ago now I came home for one day after many months on the road and became very ill," Few told Shauna Powers on Saskatchewan Weekend.
Doctors found irregularities in the brain but weren't able to make a proper diagnosis.
After surgery things became worse.
"I lost my ability to speak, to play the piano, to play the trumpet, lost my fine motor skills and lost the majority of my language — both French, German and English," said Few, who performed with his friend Mark Fewer Sunday afternoon in Regina as part of the Cecilian Chamber Series.
Years later it hit again, but this time doctors were able find out the problem.
It turns out Few suffers from cavernomas — also referred to as cavernous hemangioma — a genetic condition causing blood vessels in the brain to grow irregularly on each other, creating tumour-like structures
His father has more than 25 of these cavernomas.
"I have around six."
Having to relearn everything from scratch was a monumental challenge, but one Few was up to meeting.
"All of us have a choice," he said. "We can sit on the sofa and eat doughnuts, or we can do something."
He can even laugh about it.
"Every time I struggle with some motor skill thing or control issue, immediately it brings back those elements of fear that all of us have," he said.
It makes him wonder if the illness is causing a problem again.
"Is it because of that or do I just suck that day," he laughed.
His pal Mark Fewer, a violinist, said he is an inspiration.
"I often think of Guy as one of my heroes in my life," Fewer said. "He is an example of what is possible, what we are able to do.
"I'm aware of what he's come through and the other side he is choosing to bring out from within.
"It is kind of its own glory and it is an inspiration."
Fewer recalled a concert the two did together where Few told him he had mistakenly used the wrong trumpet for a piece they had just played.
"In the moment, on the spot he had to reprogram his brain to be able to play what we were going to play because he had the wrong instrument in his hand," Fewer said.
"Since then I always look at his trumpets and wonder when he is leaning over to pick one up, OK is he picking up the right one now?" he joked.
"I think at last night's concert you actually said at one point, "is that the right one?'"
Few said they are so similar in looks he now has colour tape on them to tell them apart.