Spreading Her Wings
- America’s Got Talent competitor Nightbirde is a three-time cancer survivor, and was told by doctors that she is terminal. The brave warrior is not letting her tragic health battle stop her from flying high this season, and making her dreams come true.
- The 30-year-old Ohio native, whose real name is Jane Marczewski, shared her overwhelming audition experience with a local news reporter at NBC 4 in Columbus, and shared a positive update about her health: She just finished more treatment and doctors are sounding more hopeful.
- SurvivorNet spoke with two cancer patients who shared how trying to enjoy life made a big difference when facing the disease, it’s important to live each day to the fullest.
The nation is buzzing over Jane Marczewski, AKE Nightbirde, who has been battling terminal cancer and who dazzled—and shocked— judges for her AGT pre-taped audition this week. She gave a stunning performance after explaining her terminal cancer diagnosis. In an emotional moment, Simon Cowell announced he was giving her his “Golden Buzzer,” which secures her a spot in the live shows.Read More
In an interview with local news station NBC4 in Columbus, Ohio, Marczewski revealed that doctors are hopeful from her recent chemotherapy treatment, and she will find out how the prognosis is looking in a few months.
The 30-year-old Ohio native is a three-time cancer survivor, and was given a 2% chance of survival after the disease spread to her liver, lungs, lymph nodes, ribs, and spine. The brave cancer warrior is not letting her tragic health battle stop her from flying high this season, and making her dreams come true.
“I’m completely blown away, overwhelmed, speechless … it’s going to take me a long time to even comprehend what happened,” Marczewski said Wednesday, beaming and looking healthy in a black tank and natural makeup, with her newly grown in hair styled and looking sleek. “It’s so amazing.”
“I was initially prepared to give myself a pep talk,” she said, referring to Cowell’s initial fake-out where it seemed he wasn’t even going to give her a yes at all for her soul-baring performance to her original song, It’s Okay.
“I didn’t think it went as well as I thought I did,” she admitted. Then, bam, she gets her confetti moment with the “notoriously tough critic” giving her the “Golden Buzzer.”
“It happened in slow motion, and I felt like the only person in the universe in that moment,” she said. “It felt too good to be true, really.”
Lastly, she talked about how she got the name ‘Nightbirde,’ and said she had had dreams three nights in a row about birds singing outside her window, but the third night, it was not a dream. The birds were chirping at 3 am as if it were morning.
“I wanted to embody that,” she said, “being someone that can sing through a dark time, because I was so full of hope and assurance that there would be a morning.”
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When asked what gives her strength and how her health is now, Marczewski talks about enjoying life and realizing what’s important.
“It was just last year that I was given a terminal diagnosis with three to six months to live,” she said. “When you come that close to the end of your life, you realize what’s important. You don’t care so much about impressing people. You don’t care so much about money or being famous or being important. You kind of connect with what life is really about. About loving and being loved, and seeing and being seen, and enjoying every single day for what it is.”
When the singer/songwriter auditioned for AGT, it was a big risk for her. “At the time, I was way sicker than I am now.”
Currently, Nightbirde is feeling much stronger since her initial audition. “Physically, I’m feeling really well. Again, for me, it’s just been miracle after miracle after miracle. I just finished some treatments a week ago and the doctors are anticipating that it’s going to take care of everything that has been left over. It will be a few more months until we can go back and see what’s going on, but I’m expecting good news. I really am.”
Nightbirde’s Cancer Journey
According to a blog post called Bald Girl in the Dark, Nightbirde wrote that she 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 six 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 still unclear.
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Living with Advanced Disease; Finding the Light
Accepting that cancer is something that just happens, and it’s not your fault, is a big part of coming to terms with the disease. We spoke with breast cancer survivor Heather Maloney, who said that trying to enjoy her life, even on chemo days, made a big difference when she was facing the disease.
“Find moments of gratitude, and you will get through it,” Heather told SurvivorNet. “Not everybody does … but we all do eventually see an ending to it. Life is hard for everybody, but I’m able to more readily and easily access a level of gratitude about being alive … I’m lucky to be alive today.”
Maloney also said that she believes you have to trust yourself more than anybody else in the room. “Access the gut instinct, and get as much information as you can,” when it comes to the diagnosis.
Another cancer survivor Lydie Roth, has been battling cancer since she was a teenager. She says the disease has stopped her from achieving her dream of becoming a fitness model, because it has left her with deformed cheek bones. Still, Lydie gets up and works out everyday – doing calisthenics and pushing herself, despite the pain the disease brings, to reach her fitness goals. In her videos, which have attracted a huge following on social media, she wears a mask to hide what the disease has done to her face. Her determination is quite beautiful.
“You never know what will happen in your life, so it’s better to spend time doing your favorite activities,” she tells SurvivorNet.
We may not get on a competition show and have the nation cheering us on during our battle, but we can find those simpler moments in life that we choose to live for … and go for it.