Stepping Forward: My Cancer Story

Everyone has their own approach in how they celebrate their milestone birthdays, especially the big 3-0. There are those who orchestrate a big party in an immense hall with red carpets, a limo arrival and that special bottle of bubbly.  Others opt to book an extravagant getaway where they create adventures most only dream of. Then there are those who don’t get a say in how they celebrate their 30th.  For my “special day,” I had visions of skydiving, go karting and then a night at a fruitful beer garden laden with the best ales money could buy. Life had a different course for me.

cancer story photoInstead, I woke up in the intensive care unit at Elmhurst Hospital. I was about to find out what those migraines for the last month were symptoms of. I was about to face a life threatening condition.

Prior to this hospital stay, every doctor I went to before said the same thing; “It’s just a migraine, take a painkiller.” One even went as far as saying I had a personality disorder! When in reality, I had been suffering from hydrocephalus caused by a germinoma brain cell tumor. Cancer. The amount of pressure placed on my brain nearly took my life. It was almost too much to bear. For the first time in my life I could truly relate to the Cypress Hill song, “Insane In The Brain!”

Despite the cancer diagnosis and radiation treatment, I refused to let it define me. I remember opening my eyes and feeling so grateful to see another day. In that moment I knew something special was happening to me. It’s been said, “that those who sing, pray twice,” so I sang Happy Birthday to myself as a way to empower my spirit and remember to enjoy the best gift of all, life! I knew that I had a divine purpose to pay it forward from that day on and have made it my responsibility to use my talents in ways that can affect the change I wish to see.

The radiation treatment prescribed by my oncologist eradicated my tumor by melting it away. I now do my regular checkups to make sure that all is going well in there. In the meantime, I live and love harder and deeper than I ever have before. By not letting this condition define me, I’ve gone back into the studio to finish my album, got back on the stage and am now seeking to take my music higher than the sky! Each day I make sure that I maintain a positive outlook that doesn’t let up. Shining in brilliance is what I like to call it. It just keeps getting brighter and brighter.

Having gone through such a unique experience, I did what I do when I go through an overwhelming, confusing and frustrating situation – I write about it! My first night home from the hospital, I remember looking up at the ceiling saying to myself, “What the fuck just happened?!” Before I knew it, my right hand reached over for my voice recorder and my single, Stepping Forward was created. June 5, 2015 marked my 2nd year cancer-versary! As a way to celebrate the two years that I am now cancer-free, I shall be releasing Stepping Forward in anticipation of my album.

Please purchase the Stepping Forward single as a way to support my advocacy efforts with Stupid Cancer – the organization that proves a cancer diagnosis does not define you, rather champions around “Get Busy Living.” Founded in 2007 by Matthew Zachary, Stupid Cancer, a nonprofit organization, is the largest charity that comprehensively addresses young adult cancer through advocacy, research, support, outreach, awareness, mobile health and social media. Their innovative, award-winning and evidence-based programs and services serve as a global bullhorn to propel the young adult cancer movement forward.

For more information, visit stupidcancer.org.