News article image Show 'Em What You're Made Of: Help is on its way...
July 24, 2017

Show 'Em What You're Made Of: Help is on its way...

By Karah-Leigh Hancock

“You Can Let Go” and “Madeleine” are just two songs that the Backstreet Boys have recorded over the years that sends messages of hope and strength to fans.

According to Psychology Today, music has demonstrated efficacy as an independent treatment for chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, along with physical effects such as regulating one's blood pressure and reducing heart rates.

Fans from all over the world have shared their stories of pain, suffering and heartache with Nick, Kevin, Brian, AJ and Howie, and how the Backstreet Boys and their music have helped each one personally.

These are just a few of the stories and how the boys have helped them along the way.

Penny Keys was 12-years-old when her mother passed away in 1996 right before her second year of middle school began.

“My Dad told me I couldn’t miss a day (and) that ‘life has to keep going on’,” Penny said. “Now at 31, I understand but then it was rough.”

It was one morning as she was getting ready for school, she had her television on MTV and “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” came on.

“That was the first time since my mother’s passing that I felt my soul awaken again,” she said. “This light came on over me.”

Penny said that music was always her outlet for everything and the Backstreet Boys helped her so much over the years.

“My Dad told me that the only time he truly saw me happy was when I was listening to (Backstreet Boys) or begging for concert tickets,” Penny said. “Fast forward 15 years later, (I’m) 27, and I’m sitting next to my father as he lies dying of brain cancer. We had one last conversation before his stroke, in which he brought up many things, but insisted on knowing if the Backstreet Boys were coming out with a new album. At the time, I had no idea and we just laughed it off.”

Penny’s father ended up dying and as she and her brother were leaving the funeral home, her brother, a big hip-hop fan, played “I Want It That Way” for her.

“I cried and cried hard and we sang along together,” Penny said. “Along with the tears, I smiled. My soul smiled. Their music has always gotten me through every trial and tribulation. It’s something in their music and souls that just bring out my smile and rejuvenates me and gives me hope.”  

After finding out that her mother had a rare, cancerous tumor on her hip, Samantha (@sammie_2789), found solace in the Backstreet Boys’ songs “Never Gone” and “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of.”

“I completely lost it,” Samantha said. “I fell apart while I was on the phone with my Dad and sobbed on the floor for over an hour when I hung up with him. I kept listening to the boys when I needed some distractions throughout the days.

Two weeks later, Samantha’s mother came home from the hospital, but was not doing very well, having become very weak and slept most of the day. But after being hospitalized again, she started listening to more of the Backstreet Boys’ music.

“‘Never Gone’ and “Show ‘Em’ both hit me very hard and had pretty much become the two main songs that were holding me together,” Samantha said. “I played ‘Show ‘Em’ on heavy rotation and made that song almost like my mom’s ‘battle cry’ song because I had wanted her to be able to beat this."

Unfortunately, Samantha’s mother passed away.

“I still miss my Mom and there’s never a day that goes by that I don’t think of her,” she said. “But I think of even more (whenever) listen to those songs, especially ‘Never Gone.”

For Lacy Piner, it wasn’t a family member that she lost - it was her best friend Christina who she shared the love of Backstreet Boys with.

“We became fans of the boys during the summer of 1997,” Lacy said. “They consumed our lives - bedroom walls, magazines, VHS tapes, CDs and every piece of memorabilia our allowances and summer jobs could afford.”

Like any set of best friends, they had their favorite boys.

“My heart belonged to Nick and hers to Kevin, or so we dreamed,” she said. “We sat side by side at every Backstreet Boys concert that came to Atlanta.”

Unfortunately, Christina suffered an unexpected death that shocked Lacy to her core and she had no idea how to live life without her.

“Her mother said something to me at Christina’s funeral that has always stuck with me,” Lacy said. “She told me that Christina’s memory would live on through the music.”

And according to Lacy, Christina’s mother was right.

“I’ve never told anyone this before … there is a moment in every concert that it hits me - she’s not there,” she said. “It takes everything with within me to hold back to the emotions. It’s almost like I can feel her beside me. As crazy as it sounds, her memory truly does live on through the music.

Elisabeth Heginbotham can’t count the number of times the Backstreet Boys and their music have helped her.

“Of course there are the normal break-ups and tragic losses that their music (has gotten) me through, but their music means so much more to me.”

According to Elisabeth, when she was 20-years-old, she became very sick. Doctors kept telling her she had an eating disorder. However, it wasn’t until nine months later when her weight dropped drastically that specialists told her she had Crohn's Disease.

“I had to come to terms with it, as it’s a lifelong condition that can make me very sick,” Elisabeth said. “The boys' music helped me to stay positive and come to terms with the condition.”

Unfortunately, Elisabeth’s Crohn's flared up in 2013 and she became very sick, even having to be put in a medically-induced coma.

“This was the time that it hit home on how much Backstreet Boys mean to me,” she said. “During the coma, I remember hearing their music and it kept me strong so I could fight the infection. They also kept me sane through the 10-month recovery.”

For Health Fitzsimmons, she did not have the easiest time growing up having been bullied at school for her weight and her shyness.

“Many classmates thought I was stuck up because I was quiet and there were times when I was put on the ugly list by some of the popular boys,” she said. “One boy, in particular, would sing the Jenny Craig song behind me every day in the lunch line.

Kristin went home every day, she said, because she thought she was never good enough.

“The highlight of my day was coming home so I could listen to my Backstreet Boys CDs and escape from the negativity,” Heather said. “During my senior year of high school, I thought about suicide, but I found strength in one of their songs.”

According to Heather, the members of the group weren’t perfect and she gained strength knowing that it was okay that she also wasn’t perfect.

“During the roughest times, I can put their music on and it brings me peace and a sense of calmness. If it wasn’t for songs like ‘Roll With It’ or ‘Song for the Unloved’ or the positive messages in many of their other songs, my story might be different.”

“And for that, I will forever be a fan and appreciative for their music and their talent,” Heather said.

“The Backstreet Boys have helped me through a lot as a person with a disability,” Kristen Van Handel said. “Music was always my outlet to feel like a normal human being.”

According to Kristen, she listened to the Backstreet Boys as a young child and is now a 26-year-old woman who they still continue to inspire and help with their music.

“I love them with all of my heart,” she said.