‘I Will Not Be A PR Stunt’: ‘AGT’ Star and Cancer Warrior Nightbirde, 30, Pens Poem About Regrets, Fears, And Fame

Published Oct 12, 2021

Chris Spargo

Nightbirde writes about her regrets, fears, hopes, and dreams in a new poem.

The America’s Got Talent star, 30, also shares her thoughts on her newfound and sudden fame, which comes while she is battling stage IV breast cancer.

“A real story still has meaning even if no one ever hears it; a PR stunt only matters if people are watching,” writes the singer, born Jane Marczewski.

“And that became a new item on the list of promises to myself: That I would never let my life become a public relations stunt. My life would have meaning, even if no one ever knew it. I wanted to write a story I was proud of, even if nobody read it.”

Nightbirde posted this to her Instagram account Tuesday. The poem’s sentimental and somber tone stood out from the sensational and optimistic posts she tends to share.

“I used to dream that I’d grow up and dazzle the world. But time and disappointment chipped away at me until only the real stuff was left, and it wasn’t very dazzling,” declares Nightbirde.

“I just had some sad stories and a sack of regrets and a new reverence for the pieces of me that survived.”

She then goes on to speak about how cancer changed her and her body and her dreams.

“All of these shipwrecks have stranded me in desolate places where I stared at my hands and realized that I couldn’t offer the world what I had hoped to,” she declares.

“Dreams shatter, and eyelashes fall out, and lungs aren’t big enough to carry the song sometimes.”

Nightbirde continues to inspire thousands with her strength and resilience in fighting metastatic breast cancer.

The singer became famous overnight after appearing on America’s Got Talent but had to withdraw ahead of the finals because her cancer had spread to the liver and lung.

She closes out her poem on a hopeful note.

“We are not all we wish we were, but we are here, and we are trying, and we are awake,” writes Nightbirde.

“We are not public relations stunts. We are stories worth hearing, even with no crowd in the stands for us. We are the heroes. We are the poem, we are the song, we are the gift.”

“We are not all we wish we were, but we are here, and we are trying, and we are awake,” writes Nightbirde.

“We are not public relations stunts. We are stories worth hearing, even with no crowd in the stands for us. We are the heroes. We are the poem, we are the song, we are the gift.”

Nightbirde Battles Cancer for the Fourth Time

Nightbirde devastated fans when she announced she would be leaving AGT this summer.

“Since my audition, my health has taken a turn for the worse, and the fight with cancer is demanding all of my energy and attention. I am so sad to announce that I won’t be able to continue forward on this season of AGT,” she wrote on her Instagram. “Life doesn’t always give breaks to those that deserve it—but we knew that already.”

That message also included a photo of Nightbirde showing her freshly shaved head.

“Thank you for all your support. It means the world to me,” wrote the singer. “Stay with me. I’ll be better soon. I’m planning my future, not my legacy. Yeah, I’m pretty beat up, but I’ve still got dreams.”

Representatives for America’s Got Talent told the contestant: “We’re keeping you in our thoughts for a full recovery!”

Producers welcomed Nightbirde back on the show in August, where she received words of praise and encouragement from the four judges and host Terry Crews.

Nightbirde’s Cancer Journey

The young talent has had a meteoric rise since she first appeared on America’s Got Talent, and has drawn the attention of Selma Blair, American Idol alum Melinda Doolittle, Terry Crews, and even Madonna’s longtime manager Guy Oseary, who noted how impressed he was with her singing.

The singer earned a Golden Buzzer for her performance in June and then watched as the song she performed soared up the digital singles chart, eventually reaching the number three spot in less than 24 hours.

Nightbirde said that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, stating in several interviews, she got the news in September of that year while living in Nashville with her then-husband. In the months that followed, she underwent chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery.

She was soon cancer-free and remained that way until New Year’s Eve 2019 when she says the breast cancer returned and doctors gave her just a few months to live. She was cancer-free by April.

That continued until she posted a message in January saying the cancer had returned.

“This spring, I experienced a true miracle. Hundreds of tumors died in my body after being given 3-6 months to live. It was a whirlwind of a year, and my friends, family, and fans gave me tens of thousands of dollars for a treatment that saved my life. But it turns out that my journey wasn’t quite over,” wrote Nightbirde.

“Late summer after the finalization of my divorce and months after my cancer-free report, I suffered a catatonic mental breakdown, and I barely spoke, ate, or moved from bed for several months. With help from the specialists here, we discovered that the events of this year had caused a physical head trauma. My brain was sending false signals of excruciating pain, and my brain’s ability to process stress and emotion was functioning at just 8%.”

She continued: “With some brain wave therapy, I have made some huge strides and consider myself extremely lucky to have found the help I did. (Again, able to afford it with the money you gave!) But all of this took a tremendous toll on my body, and some of the cancer has grown back.”

Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer

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.

When Breast Cancer Spreads to the Bones

And while there is technically no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there are 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 progresses to a later stage.

Stage Four Breast Cancer

“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.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, but many breast cancer survivors and people living with the disease today.

The American Cancer Society reports that more than 3.8 million U.S. women with a history of breast cancer were alive at the start of 2019. Some of the women were cancer-free, and others still had evidence of the disease.

Reports estimate that more than 150,000 breast cancer survivors are living with metastatic disease.

And with ongoing advancements in treatments and options out there today that can dramatically reduce systems, there are many reasons to be hopeful.

Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.

Chris Spargo is a senior reporter at SurvivorNet. Read More