Sisters’ Journey Survivor of the Month: March 2017
Cynthia Cherish Malaran
At age 39, I was diagnosed with a triple positive breast cancer that immediately altered the course of my life. Or did it? One has to wonder if DNA, a strong family history of breast cancer, a fighter’s spirit and creative tenacity were put in place from a young age so that this diagnosis could happen for a bigger purpose. No one will ever know, but fortunately this was the setting for an outcome that would lead to a double mastectomy without reconstruction, leading to an epic lesson in healing, understanding what beauty truly is, and inspiring the world to learn to love themselves without having to experience this through illness.
Two years of constant nausea brought me to a doctor’s office one day in 2015, where a nurse stopped in her tracks doing a manual exam to say, “You have a lump behind your nipple. You need to get a biopsy right away.” Elated, finally I had an answer as to why I was living with ongoing fatigue, fog, anxiety and nausea. The feeling of “Finally. An answer,” quickly turned into “Oh crap. An answer.” And that answer was cancer – an aggressive HER2 positive strain, which thankfully could be treated with the powerful lifesaving drug, Herceptin. Neo-adjuvant treatment would begin in April in order to shrink my tumor before surgery in October that same year.
Chemotherapy began and this ignited a strength in me that was surprising; instead of taking me down, it woke me up. My curiosity and desire to come out in the end a better person inspired fellow patients, friends, strangers, and those who treated me at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. By posting my journey on a near daily basis in a string of posts entitled “The Cancer Diaries,” hash-tagged as such, people from around the world discovered my words and shared their experiences in return. My words brought hope for so many trembling with fear with their fresh diagnosis. I never wanted to be a part of this club, but I am grateful for the knowledge and role-modeling that I can provide for women at the crossroads themselves of whether or not they should get breast reconstruction. I was one voice of success, freedom and survival that they could listen to. These “strangers” became family and they, along with my best friend and friends from previous jobs and schools dating back to kindergarten, formed an exquisite support circle: the “village.” It does take a village to heal and support a woman who is healing a cancer. These huge-hearted people were the cheerleaders when my family couldn’t be there.
Still, at every turn, there appeared a new challenge. As I resumed my life as a DJ, Reverend and now author, I discovered I had become seriously allergic to Herceptin and was immediately taken off treatment. Suddenly being left flapping in the wind in a scary place without treatment, I knew then the only thing I could do to save myself was to keep my immune system strong by doing all the things in life that simply mean happiness. For the rest of my life, I have committed to doing just that in many forms. I am currently hosting a radio show entitled “Primary Food” about the nourishment of creativity at Heritage Radio Network in Brooklyn, NY. As Rev. DJ CherishTheLuv, I am DJing for megastars such as Oprah Winfrey, Bono, Amy Schumer and Nile Rodgers; DJing for charitable events, making music with friends, planning surprise wedding proposals, and officiating weddings. As I pen my experience as Survivor and Author, I am writing books on my cancer journey, coaching people, and traveling with my pup. Writing for Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Visible Ink Program has allowed my inspirational and healing piece, “Cancer In A Jar,” to be published in their anthology and performed live by on and off-Broadway actors on stage. You can find the video of this healing piece on YouTube, under “Visible Ink, Cancer In a Jar.” To find out when my books publish, or even hire me to bring life, joy and music to your event, please go to Follow me on Facebook and Instagram @djcherishtheluv
Click Here to view "Cancer in a Jar"