"It’s important that everyone knows that I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me," contestant Jane Marczewski said.
Published Jun 9, 2021
America’s Got Talent contestant Jane Marczewski, 30, is fighting terminal cancer. After last night’s flawless performance of her original song, It’s Okay, the thirty-year-old was fast-tracked to the live shows with judge Simon Cowell’s “Golden Buzzer,” after moving the judges to tears with her talent and shocking story.
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore until you decide to be happy,” the three-time cancer survivor calmly tells the judges as they processed her unfathomable fight.
The Ohio native, who performs under the name Nightbirde, explained that she had cancer in her lungs, spine and liver.
“You’ve got a beautiful smile and a beautiful glow, and nobody would know,” judge Howie Mandel told her.
“Your voice is stunning, absolutely stunning,” said Cowell. “There was something about that song, the way you almost casually told us what you are going through…” He then revealed that he was going to give her the “Golden Buzzer,” which each judge is allowed to use once throughout the season to fast-track a special act. The emotional Marczewski dropped to her knees as Cowell went on stage to give her a hug.
“That really got me,” Cowell said to Mandel when Marczewski exited the stage.
“I have a 2 percent chance of survival, but 2 percent is not 0 percent,” she said to AGT host Terry Crews following her audition. “Two percent is something, and I wish people knew how amazing it is.”
According to her blog, Marczewski was diagnosed with terminal cancer on New Year’s Eve in 2019. Doctors found “innumerable tumors” on her liver, lungs, lymph nodes, ribs, and spine and they gave her six months to live.
The disease started in her breast in 2017 when she found a 4 cm tumor, her brother Mitch shared on the GoFundMe page he started for his sister. She had 6 rounds of chemotherapy, and three surgeries, including a double mastectomy. There is no breast cancer history in her family.
“With traditional chemotherapy treatment the doctors are hopeful they can extend Jane’s life by up to 3 1/2yrs,” Mitch wrote early last year when the cancer had metastasized. There were “3 sizable tumors in her lungs, ‘innumerable’ small tumors in her liver, 3 tumors in her spine., ‘innumerable’ tumors throughout her ribs, and ‘innumerable’ amounts of smaller tumors in her nodes as well,” he wrote.
She shared that she had a brief remission in 2020, but the details are unclear.
“I have had cancer three times now, and I have barely passed 30,” Marczewski wrote. “There are times when I wonder what I must have done to deserve such a story. I fear sometimes that when I die and meet with God, that He will say I disappointed Him, or offended Him, or failed Him. Maybe He’ll say I just never learned the lesson, or that I wasn’t grateful enough. But one thing I know for sure is this: He can never say that He did not know me.”
Marczewski has used her faith to get her through these battles.
“I am God’s downstairs neighbor, banging on the ceiling with a broomstick,” she wrote in another blog entry. “I show up at His door every day. Sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses. Sometimes apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times, I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself.”
She incorporates God into a lot of her posts, although she admits that her relationship with God is not always full of hope, but she still looks to Him at the end of the day.
“Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened. But count me also among the friends of God,” she wrote. “For I have seen Him in rare form. I have felt His exhale, laid in His shadow, squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout: “I’m sad too.’”
Faith is not the answer for everybody, but it can be a great way to keep spirits high when cancer starts taking an emotional and/or physical toll.
Monica Layton, an ovarian cancer survivor, also turned to God during a fight with cancer, and leaned on her church congregation for support as she battled cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic and then went through recovery.
“[I’ve] gone to the same church for a long time, so it’s like another family that really supports me,” Layton told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “We’re Episcopalian, and when I was having surgery my priest came to the hospital and stayed and prayed with my family the whole time – and it was a long surgery. And then he came back to the hospital every day to pray with me.”