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From an emotional "America’s Got Talent” audition from a singer with cancer to a wig company that creates wigs for women of color, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.
Jane Marczewski, 30, auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday with a performance of her original song, “It’s OK.”
Marczewski revealed before her performance that she has been dealing with cancer for the past few years. She said that she has a 2% chance of survival and some cancer in her lungs, spine and liver.
“It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happened to me,” Marczewski said.
After her song ended, Marczewski received a standing ovation from the crowd and positive feedback from the judges.
“That felt like the most authentic thing I have heard this season,” said judge Howie Mandel.
Judge Simon Cowell hit the golden buzzer, which directly advances Marczewski to the round of live shows in the competition.
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy,” she said.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, Dianne Austin found out she was going to lose all of her hair due to chemotherapy.
“I got a wig prescription that I could take to the retail store inside the cancer treatment center, but I learned that they only sold straight wigs,” she wrote in a piece on Popsugar.
After looking around multiple hospitals in her area and researching various stores across the country for curly and coily wigs that resembled her real hair, Austin concluded that it would be hard to find what she was looking for in many areas of the country.
“I learned through those phone calls that this is definitely an issue across the country where cancer centers would have these products, but the products in particular are not serving chemotherapy or other medical hair loss patients who want an alternative to a straight-haired wig,” she wrote.
Austin was frustrated but ultimately decided that she wanted to make a difference for other women in the same position. She created Coils to Locs with her sister, Pamela Shaddock. The company creates afro-textured wigs for women of color that resemble their natural hair types.
“When we spoke to retail store buyers and managers, all we'd hear is, ‘We've been looking for these types of wigs for years and we haven't been able to get them for patients,’” Austin wrote.
Tara Rule was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 22. She went through various treatments and time in intensive care, becoming severely sick from the disease.
Rule decided to recreate the experience in a film with her friend, Laura LaFrate, to share her emotional story. The 50-minute film, “Cato,” shows the challenges she faced during her cancer journey, such as treatment, severe symptoms and needing to use a wheelchair. The story is told from the perspective of Rule’s cat, Cato.
“It felt like he needed me, and I know my family and friends needed me, too, but that day, when I was like, 'I can’t do this anymore,' he just hopped up on me,” Rule told Spectrum News. “I don’t know what it was. He’s kind of been this pillar for me.”
The film premieres on June 12 at the Madison Theater in Albany, New York. Proceeds will be donated to the Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center.
“There’s a lot of missing pieces in my mind, and I think it helped me kind of see a point in my life that I wasn’t really present for,” Rule said.
Melissa Rhodes died from ovarian cancer in May at age 42. Before her death, she wrote her own obituary and included a request that her loved ones celebrate rather than mourn and avoid “sad attire.”
On May 18, her service was held at Mastapeter Funeral Home in New Jersey, with attendees sporting Red Sox jerseys, WWE gear, Target uniforms (where she was an employee) or spirit apparel from her children’s elementary school. Others wore teal in support of ovarian cancer awareness.
The guests shared memories of Rhodes’ love of professional wrestling and singer Jon Bon Jovi, among other stories.
“She wanted it to be bright and fun, and that’s exactly what it was,” said Rhodes’ friend Linda Carrol. “When I tell you it was a party, it was a party... There (were) some tears, but it was just everybody talking about her and her life and what she left behind.”
Rhodes had two children, ages 6 and 8, and worked in the human resources department at Target.
“Melissa basically tried every possible thing that she could in order to survive and be here for her two kids,” said Carrol. “Her two kids were and are still everything that she wanted, and everything that she basically lived and strive to still be here for.”
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