As informed to Shannon Shelton Miller
I at all times dreamed of being an expert singer. Rising up within the church, I started singing from an early age and I’ve a ardour for soulful R&B.
For too lengthy, my dream remained simply that — a dream. I bought married, had kids and immersed myself in elevating a household. I used to be so targeted on taking good care of everybody else that I ignored the ache I felt in 2015 whereas breastfeeding my third baby. After I went to see the physician, I used to be informed the ache was from swollen milk ducts, and I pressed on by way of the ache.
By 2017, I used to be going by way of a divorce and going through monetary struggles, all whereas nonetheless coping with breast ache. I made an appointment with a special physician in the identical follow, who instantly referred me for a mammogram and a biopsy that exposed I had stage 3 breast most cancers.
That turned out to be the wake-up name I wanted. I used to be so used to being a spouse and mom and doing for everyone else that I didn’t care for myself or do the issues that made me blissful. There have been so many issues I knew I needed to do, and I hadn’t performed any of them. I’d solely taken child steps towards pursuing a singing profession, performing as a soloist at a number of occasions and live shows, however my breast most cancers prognosis made me notice it was now or by no means!
After I completed therapy and went into remission in 2018, I threw myself into my singing profession, and shortly my band and I have been reserving and promoting out reveals all through my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. And there have been much more reveals to come back — in 2019, I carried out on stage on the historic Apollo Theater in New York Metropolis! I’d watched Apollo performances on TV since I used to be a baby and at all times stated I might sing on that stage at some point too. Not solely did I sing there, I received the Newbie Evening competitors twice. It was an expertise like none different.
I sang and I traveled the world — going from Europe to the Caribbean, and basking in each a part of the journey. I vowed I might journey overseas yearly for my birthday, hoping to go to each nation on the planet not less than as soon as.
Monique Denise performing on the legendary Apollo Theater in 2019. (Photograph/Tony Austin)
In early 2020, the pandemic put these journey desires on maintain and slowed down my singing profession. I used to be nonetheless making an attempt to work ultimately, however I had additionally been coping with extreme again ache for about 5 months. I couldn’t get off the bed. I couldn’t decide up my purse. My major physician tried to deal with my points, considering they have been unrelated to my previous breast most cancers prognosis, however I may solely see her by way of digital appointments so she wasn’t capable of look at me.
On Saturday, Could 17, 2020, I went to a video shoot and was in a lot ache your complete day, I took myself straight to the emergency room when it was over. The physician there ordered an ultrasound and CT scan, and I used to be informed they’d discovered proof of most cancers.
I used to be now at stage 4: metastatic breast most cancers. I used to be devastated.
I went again into therapy and my most cancers was secure for some time till we came upon in early April that my tumors have been nonetheless rising, a portion of my backbone had not hardened and I had an impending fracture that wanted quick consideration. Though the most cancers began in my breast, it was now in my lungs, lymph nodes in my chest, adrenal glands, liver, bones and blood. As soon as within the blood, sadly, each a part of your physique is in danger. When it bought into my bones, it made them extra inclined to wreck, and I now have areas alongside my vertebrae which are crushed and components of my ribs which are fractured. I nonetheless endure from lymphedema from my first bout with most cancers as a result of I had 22 lymph nodes eliminated. The tumor depend in my blood has additionally elevated.
It’s so much to deal with!
There’s a variety of downtime when you will have this illness and a variety of time to fall into despair, so it’s straightforward to get caught up in regrets and wishful considering. To ward it off, I attempt to hold singing as a lot as I can as a result of so long as I’ve one thing else to deal with, I received’t have time to be depressed.
Music is what makes me blissful — that’s why I carry out. I don’t need that taken away from me. Music can be my platform to encourage others and provides them motivation and inspiration to look past the challenges they could have. Simply watching how a lot enjoyable individuals are having and the grins I placed on their faces when my band and I carry out is wonderful. It makes every little thing price it.
I do have moments the place I really feel like I don’t know what’s going to occur, however my family members and my docs at all times encourage me. They inform me how a lot drugs and know-how are evolving, and about individuals who’ve been residing with stage 4 most cancers for a few years now. I do know different folks in my scenario prefer to set short-term targets, however I refuse to try this. I’m decided that I’m going to be right here for some years. In my thoughts, I’m going to be right here to observe all of my youngsters graduate, get married and begin their careers.
I wrote a track referred to as “Journey” the primary time I used to be recognized with breast most cancers. It’s about going by way of the method, coping with the illness and overcoming. I wrote the track to present hope to anybody preventing most cancers or going through one other troublesome battle. We might not perceive why that is occurring to us, however we have now a narrative to inform.
And my story isn’t over. Truthfully, for me, my prognosis was when my life actually started.
This useful resource was created with help from Merck and Sanofi.