Updated: Oct 29, 2021
I’m a fan of America’s Got Talent. It’s one of the few television shows I watch. It reminds me of a modern day Ed Sullivan (and I've just dated myself - lol!). Each year you watch contestants going for their dreams, each has a story. Some tug at your heart strings. Their strength and resilience are amazing. This year a particular contestant did something no other contestant has done – she touched my soul. Corny right, but so true.
Her stage name is Nightbirde. She came on stage with a glow about her. Her smile was contagious and you knew by just looking at her that she was truly a happy woman, she had a beautiful energy. When asked what she would be doing – she replied a song she had written about what she had been experiencing the last few years. Asked what she’d been doing, she said she’s been battling cancer. Howie Mandell said I’m sorry and she replied with a smile No, it’s okay, I’m okay. It’s important that everyone knows I am so much more than the bad things that happen to me. And then she sang her song called “It’s okay”. I heard an angel. Her voice was tender and beautiful. When she was done, there was silence and then a standing ovation. When the judges gave their critiques Simon asked how she was doing with her cancer. She replied last time I checked I had some cancer in my liver, lungs and spine. Simon was flumuxed. When he regained his composure, he said in part: There was something about that song after what you casually told us what you’re going through, you’re so happy and then he was at a loss for words to which she responded something so profound:
You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to decide to be happy.
She received the golden buzzer (which is a big deal) which put her through to the finale. When she left the stage she turned to the camera with exuberance and said “I have a 2% chance of survival, but 2% is not zero percent. Two percent is something and I wish people knew how amazing it is”.
I got it, I knew what she meant. I know that euphoria. Yes, she has advanced stage cancer, yes the odds are insurmountable, but she has odds. She has a chance to live. And the feeling that you get when you can continue to experience life is euphoric. After receiving a cancer diagnosis you let go of the negative, you don’t focus on petty little things, you focus on enjoying life. You embrace the small beautiful things. Nightbirde is living joy.
She had to withdraw from the competition, her cancer is back in her liver and lungs. She was interviewed by Chris Cuomo on CNN. He asked how she was doing. She said life is perspective – its is what you decide it is. She went on to say her liver is more cancer that liver. But, she said, I’m planning my future not my legacy. She said some people may say I’m in blind denial but I prefer to call it rebellious hope. We all hurt, we all suffer and we all have the ability to overcome. She ended with “Don’t you want to know what happens if you never give up?” Her positivity was infectious.
I felt that happiness for life during my cancer journey. We all know that no one’s getting out of here alive, but we tend to forget that. Cancer doesn’t let you forget. When you’re faced with a grim diagnosis and then to be given the gift of treatment to live a longer life it’s euphoric. I was truly happy during treatment. I had odds! I had another chance to live life. True bliss. I remember saying to Bob, almost the exact same thing. If people only knew . . .
It’s been four years since I finished treatment. I notice that I’ve lost a little of that euphoria. At times, I’ve let life bring me down, forgetting how absolutely wonderful it is warts and all. Forgetting what a gift it is. I needed Nightbirde to remind me how incredibly blessed we are to be here. That we have the power to decide how we want to view life. How we can experience happiness even in difficult times. That rebellious hope is so much better than blind denial. That the bad things that happen to us don’t define us. And to live in joy is everything. Thank you Nightbirde for sharing with the world your light. I am in gratitude. #_nightbirde #itsokay #ingratitude #joy #cancersucks #savingteets