Relying on Community for Support
- Fans from all around the world are supporting former America’s Got Talent contestant Nightbirde as she announced that she’s getting back into singing amid her metastatic breast cancer battle.
- Metastatic breast cancer – also called “stage four” breast cancer – means that the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the breasts to other parts of the body. It most commonly spreads to the bones, liver and lungs, but it may also spread to the brain or other organs.
- Vulnerability does not come naturally for everyone. But it might be worth it to try opening up, even to a smaller group of people, because you never know how much it can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.
Marczewski was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer on New Year’s Eve in 2019, and she’s still fighting for her health. The 30-year-old pop artist’s world turned upside down when doctors found multiple tumors on her liver, lungs, lymph nodes, ribs and spine. They told her she had three to six months to live, but she’s proved them wrong. And though she had to leave the hit competition series due to her declining health, she’s gained quite a following after her ‘Golden Buzzer’ audition performance of her original song It’s OK.Read More
Flash forward to yesterday, and Nightbirde had some exciting news to share. In what can only be considered a triumphant return, she posted that she’s getting back to doing what she loves: singing. She shared the update with a picture of her wearing a gentle, hopeful smile sitting beside the black and whites of a keyboard.
View this post on Instagram
“Operation Sing Again: DAY ONE,” she wrote in her caption. “Someone hype me up?”
And her followers were up to the task. Over 2,500 people from places all over the world – Kenya, Japan, New Zealand to name a few – posted words of encouragement and praise to make sure she knew they were rooting for her.
Melissa Joy Quintas, @missyjoyqu, has it written in her bio that she’s a stage 3 HER2 positive breast cancer survivor. She commented on Nightbirde’s post with just the hype she asked for.
“Ur a fellow rockstar cancer superhero survivor 🙏🌈😇me too,” she wrote.
Another follower, Michael Slaughter (@potuspcc), sent her a message of love as a fellow terminal cancer warrior.
“I am.so.proud of you and your fighting sprit,” he wrote. “I was just told that my cancer is terminal and I only have months to live. I don’t believe it and like you I am going to prove them wrong. You don’t just sing for You, you are singing for me too. All my love and support…God has us in his hands.”
Bo Linnartz, @bolinnartz, a singer who recently had a cancer scare, urged Nightbirde to continue to use her gift.
“I had a cancer scare the other day, and thought of you,” he wrote. “I hoped if it was real (which thankfully it was not) I could handle it with the courage and grace that you have. I have been a singer/songwriter all my life. Nowhere close to your level, but I have always marveled at those that have the gift of capturing what everyone is feeling and putting it into words. You have that gift my friend. Sing everyday… yours is a gift from God which is in turn a gift to the world. So sing…. And keep singing. That is what you were placed here to do. Just do it!”
And another user who’s been touched by cancer, Carrie Gomar (@halfpintcarrie), encouraged Nightbirde to sing whenever she’s ready.
“You’ve got this!” she wrote. “Sing in your own time when you want. I stopped singing when my mom passed from cancer and started up when I was ready. We will always be here when you want to sing again. 🎶”
Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer
Nightbirde has proven that an advanced cancer diagnosis does not require that you stop living. Metastatic breast cancer – also called “stage four” breast cancer – means that the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the breasts to other parts of the body. It most commonly spreads to the bones, liver and lungs, but it may also spread to the brain or other organs.
And while there is technically no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there is a wide variety of treatment options used to battle the disease including hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy and a combination of various treatments.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Elizabeth Comen, an oncologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, explained how she tries to manage breast cancer when it has progressed to a later stage.
“With advanced disease, the goal of treatment is to keep you as stable as possible, slow the tumor growth and improve your quality of life,” she said.
The American Cancer Society reports that there were more than 3.8 million U.S. women with a history of breast cancer alive at the start of 2019. Some of the women were cancer-free, and others still had evidence of the disease, but they also reported that more than 150,000 breast cancer survivors were living with metastatic disease, three-fourths of whom were originally diagnosed with stage I-III. And with ongoing advancements in treatments and options out there today that can dramatically reduce systems, there are many reasons to be hopeful.
Creating Community during a Cancer Journey
During a cancer battle, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There’s a community out there for you to be vulnerable with, if you’d like, and it’s worth it to at least try to connect with some people as you battle the disease. Nightbirde has been very up front with how much the community she’s built has uplifted her and pushed her through her cancer journey.
But Nightbirde is definitely not the only one to build a support system in this way. Kate Hervey is another cancer warrior who has touched many people by sharing her story. A young college girl, she was shocked to be diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that tends to form near large joints in young adults, after seeing her doctor for tenderness and lumps in one of her legs.
Hervey, a nursing student at Michigan State, had to handle her cancer battle during the COVID-19 pandemic and scale back on her social activities as a high-risk patient. That’s when she turned to TikTok as a creative outlet, and inspired thousands.
“One thing that was nice about TikTok that I loved and why I started posting more and more videos is how many people I was able to meet through TikTok and social media that are going through the same things,” she says. “I still text with this one girl who is 22. If I’m having a hard time, I will text her because she will understand. As much as my family and friends are supportive, it’s hard to vent to someone who doesn’t know what it’s really like.”
Hervey is now cancer-free, and says she couldn’t have done it without the love and support of her TikTok followers.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on me through TikTok, which is crazy to say. I can help people go through what I’ve been going through as well.” She has graciously agreed to allow SurvivorNet to use her content in order to help our community.
So while sharing your story for thousands of TikTok users might not be your thing, it’s important to consider opening up to others about your struggles during a cancer battle. Even if it’s with a smaller group, you never know how much the support can help you – or help those you share with – unless you try.