"I look at my life before," said Bailey, who lives with his family in northern Virginia. "Things that were important were prestige, title, salary."
In the summer of 1996, he started getting terrible headaches. One night, when his headaches were particularly bad, his wife Leslie called 911. At the emergency room, doctors diagnosed the problem: He had a brain tumor the size of a baseball.
Doctors removed all they could find of the tumor and discovered it was cancerous.
"I thought, 'He's dead.'" his wife said. But as a young father of two children, Bailey wasn't ready to accept death.
So he went to work, researching his illness. On the Web, he tracked down a page solely about brain tumors. And he found the name of Dr. Henry Friedman, a brain tumor specialist at Duke University Medical Center.
Unlike many doctors, Friedman believes that brain tumors can be treated and takes an aggressive approach.
"I want somebody who's out there rattling the cages, saying, 'We're going to save this guy,'" David Bailey said.
In the fall of 1996, Friedman and his team included David Bailey in a clinical trial to test a new oral form of chemotherapy. As a result, Bailey went into remission. But there was still a good chance that the cancer would come back.
This new reality has changed Bailey deeply, he said. "My sense of time has been massively adjusted."
"The first reality was that my job was not my life," he said. "I've rediscovered the importance of my family and what they meant to me and what I needed to do with and for them. And I rediscovered my music, which I had let go (of) for 10 years."
"It's almost like you get a fresh chance to start again," he said. He started up a two-man band Not by Chance but now plays solo on the road. Music is as important to him as medicine, he noted.
While Bailey has lost some vision on his left side and has had to take medications to prevent seizures, he is still tumor-free four years after his diagnosis with a brain tumor, though the tumor could crop up at any time.
Bailey has put out five CDs, and his music - now a full-time career - is flourishing. His goal is to share through music what he has learned about life.
During the past four years, he has spent more time with his wife Leslie and his children, now 6 and 8.