My Mom Loves American Idol. My Mom Has Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

Joe Martin
3 min readJun 10, 2020
The Martin Family (Joe, Anna, Mike, Mike Jr, Jennifer, and Ashley)

So I’ve never….I’ve never really been the kind of person who accepts reality — a trait I think I share with a lot of fellow Chicago entrepreneurs. Hell, I have an entire TEDx talk about rewriting your future to get out of your current reality.

But then…
Then there are those moments. The ones where you find yourself feeling helpless.

When I found out my mother had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer….it…just, fuck. It got me.

Ann & Joe on her last day of treatment in 2016

She had breast cancer before. And beat it! She received an “all clear,” and foolishly, I thought that was it. I thought we had done it.


Turns out it doesn’t….it doesn’t really work like that.

So here it is.

She has started chemo and is already making friends at treatment by offering to help other people on her first day of treatment because the workers were exhausted. Which is just…that’s her! That’s my mom.

And now, a timeline I don’t get to write.

Ann & Joe on a family trip to Iceland in Feb 2018

As scary as it is for me, it kills me to think about what she’s going through. Especially through so much of the treatment alone, during COVID-19.

Her and my father finally retired last year in December. 35 years in business together. Running a printing company and showing me what it meant to work hard, build something, and take care of those that dedicate their time to your business.

And this…this is supposed to be kick back and relax time. But now my parents find themselves traveling 90mins each way to regular chemo treatments.

So what can I do — how can I help?

Maybe I can give her something fun to be a part of. Something I created for her, celebrates my local community, and raises money for breast cancer research and awareness at the same time.

Since my mom loves American Idol, I thought, maybe I can do something fun with my fellow musician friends.

I’m launching an online competition for Chicago musicians that generates money for breast cancer research and awareness

A 6-week, online competition for Chicago musicians that allows viewers to watch, vote, and donate.

Over the past month+ my girlfriend and I have spent our evenings and weekends planning what it could be, how it would run, and how we could do it. Now — I think we’re ready.

You can learn more about the event at As of right now we’re still looking for:

  • More Chicago musicians to register as performers
  • Celebrity judges to appear in our live performances
  • Donors to help us hit our goal of $20k

We’ve created a page full of graphics that make it easy to promote the event on your social media. Anything you can do to help spread the word would be incredible.

Thank you to my amazing girlfriend for helping to push this idea forward, the team at ACS for helping us promote the event, and to you for making it this far through the article.

We hope you’ll visit the site to see the talent Chicago has to offer and vote for your favorite musician.

Joe Martin is a productivity coach and international speaker from Chicago. His book, 6-Week Cycles, teaches people how to work for 6 weeks then take off for 2. His ideas on corporate culture have been featured on Fox News, Tasty Trade, and WCIU. With multiple appearances on radio, podcasts, and a 2019 TEDx Talk, he fights for a work-life balance that allows people to spend more time with their family and local community.



Joe Martin

Entrepreneur, author, and TEDx Speaker who believes real world interactions are more valuable than digital ones.