Metalcore titans Of Mice and Men were forced to cut their European tour short in October when frontman Austin Carlile was hospitalized for complications arising from his ongoing battle with Marfan syndrome — a rare fibrostic connective tissue disorder. Fans hoped the break would help restore Carlile’s health, but many grew concerned when the band withdrew as the support act on A Day to Remember’s upcoming Australian tour earlier this week.
After being inundated with well-wishes from fans, Carlile took to Twitter to address those urging him to “get well soon.” He outlined some hard, devastating truths in a series of tweets.
“FYI you don’t “get better” w/ Marfans,” he began. “You GET BY. I’ve had foot, ear, rib, head, hip, back, & heart surgeries just so I can function/live. All of you saying I should hurry up & get better what’s taking so long. I’ll never be better. you happy? I live EACH DAY as it comes. Each day is a battle. Marfan Syndrome is a fibrostic connective tissue disorder, that means it affects your ENTIRE BODY, and IT. IS. PAINFUL.”
In case anyone interpreted his explanation as self-pitying, Carlile injected some optimism into his reflection.
“I don’t cry on Twitter on all the bad days,” he continued. “I suck it up & keep pushing on. The rare good days?!… I CHERISH those more than you could ever understand. & I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. This is why I have such a heart for those hurting, mentally OR physically, because I. AM. TOO.”
Marfan syndrome is a relatively uncommon illness, with fewer than 200,000 cases reported each year. By increasing the production of protein called transforming growth factor beta in connective tissue — which is found in all cells, organs and tissue — the disease wreaks havoc on the body. Heart, blood vessels, bones, joints, eyes, lungs, skin and the nervous system are just some of the areas affected.
In 2015, Carlile was declared clinically dead for several hours while undergoing a risky cardiac operation necessary to ward off the ravages of Marfan syndrome. “My heart was stopped,” he later told Metal Hammer. “They put my head in a whole thing of ice, to stop your brain activity — you’re dead. I was clinically dead for three hours while they did the procedure.” Even after he was revived, the problems didn’t stop. A lung infection caused by his weakened condition kept him in the hospital for an extra week and a half.
He credits his newfound faith in helping him through the harrowing ordeal. “I remember saying, ‘Look God, this is in your hands.’ It was out of my hands completely at that point. I said, ‘I have to have faith that you have a plan for me and you want me to do something with my life. And if you don’t, then it’s just going to end right here. And if it doesn’t, then I need to wake up and do that.’”
Carlile affirmed his spiritual beliefs in July 2016 by getting baptized at the age of 28. “Through His grace I AM enough, and hope my life and fight can reflect just that to others,” he captioned an Instagram photo, which appears to show the baptism ceremony.
In 2013, Carlile befriended Katelyn Norman, a 14-year-old terminally ill fan who dreamed of seeing Of Mice and Men perform live and obtaining an autographed T-shirt from the band. “I told her not to be afraid because she wouldn’t be alone,” Carlile tweeted after meeting her. “My mom is already an angel and would be taking care of her.”
When she died less than a week later, Carlile shared a tribute on Twitter: “Heaven gained another angel this morning. #RIPKatelynNorman Her light will never go out. She’ll always be in my heart. I promised her that.”
Following the cancellation of their European tour in October, Carlile was hopeful in a message to fans. “God has a plan, all of this is in His hands at the end of the day and I’m ready for whatever comes next.”