The news of the death of the Door’s keyboardist, Ray Manzerek, left me reeling with sadness and Doors nostalgia yesterday. I began to be a fan of the Doors in college spending hours listening to the fine details of their music and the poetic lyrics of Jim Morrison. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1995, I found myself walking on Venice Beach with the thoughts, “This is where Jim and Ray met.” I went to the Whiskey-A-Go-Go just to feel the history of the walls knowing that everyone from the Doors to Guns and Roses had played there.
I do believe that Ray Manzerek lived quite a full life, but when I read that he died from bile duct cancer, I was baffled. That was something I had never hear of. So, I’ve been reading about this awful illness that took the life of a musical icon, and I thought I’d share what I found for anyone else who is also curious and needs to know what took Ray from us.
First, according to cancer.net:
The bile duct is a 4-inch to 5-inch long tube that connects the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. The bile duct allows bile, which is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, to flow into the small intestine. Bile is a liquid that helps to break down fats found in foods and helps the body get rid of the waste material that is filtered out of the bloodstream by the liver.
Bile duct cancer begins when normal cells in the bile duct change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor.
The prognoses of bile duct cancer is grave. According to Wikipedia:
Surgical resection offers the only potential chance of cure in cholangiocarcinoma (or bile duct cancer). For non-resectable cases, the 5-year survival rate is 0% where the disease is inoperable because distal lymph nodes show metastases, and less than 5% in general. Overall median duration of survival is less than 6 months in inoperable, untreated, otherwise healthy patients with tumors involving the liver.
For surgical cases, the odds of cure vary depending on the tumor location and whether the tumor can be completely, or only partially, removed. Distal cholangiocarcinomas (those arising from the common bile duct) are generally treated surgically with a Whipple procedure; long-term survival rates range from 15%–25%, although one series reported a five-year survival of 54% for patients with no involvement of the lymph nodes. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas (those arising from the bile ducts within the liver) are usually treated with partial hepatectomy. Various series have reported survival estimates after surgery ranging from 22%–66%; the outcome may depend on involvement of lymph nodes and completeness of the surgery. Perihilar cholangiocarcinomas (those occurring near where the bile ducts exit the liver) are least likely to be operable. When surgery is possible, they are generally treated with an aggressive approach often including removal of the gallbladder and potentially part of the liver. In patients with operable perihilar tumors, reported 5-year survival rates range from 20%–50%.
It is so sad that Ray Manzerek passed away from such an awful cancer with a terrible prognosis. His music will live on forever and has become his legacy, however, and that certainly brings a smile to my face. My song of the day is The Doors playing “Light My Fire,” because this song really showcases his keyboard. That musical riff is infamous, and for me, I will always think of him every time that I hear it. Click HERE to go to Youtube to listen to “Light My Fire.” RIP, Ray Manzerek. Your music will always be a part of my life’s soundtrack.