Updated: Jul 13, 2021
by Jane Marczewski ("Nightbirde")
I saw a post shared by one of my Facebook friends of Nightbirde singing - and the entire performance was amazing - and brought so much emotion to the forefront, because of the story behind the song.
Love these words penned by singer/songwriter, Nightbirde - who was given a 2% chance of survival by her doctors, after being diagnosed with cancer, not one, but three times.
Read her words about her journey, below:
I don't remember most of autumn,
Because I lost my mind late in the summer
And for a long time after that -
I wasn't in my body.
I was a light bulb buzzing somewhere afar.
After the doctor told me I was dying,
And after the man I married said he didn't love me anymore,
I chased a miracle in California
And sixteen weeks later, I got it.
The cancer was gone.
But when my brain caught up with it all,
I later found that all the tragedy at once
Had caused a physical head trauma,
And my brain was sending false signals
of excruciating pain and panic.
I spent three months propped against the wall.
On nights that I could not sleep,
I laid in the tub like an insect,
Staring at my reflection in the shower knob.
I vomited til I was hollow.
I rolled up under my robe on the tile.
The bathroom floor became my place to hide,
Where I could scream and be ugly;
Where I could sob and spit and eventually doze off,
Happy to be asleep,
Even with my head on the toilet.
I have had cancer three times now,
And I have barely passed thirty.
There are times when I wonder what I must have done,
To deserve such a story.
I fear sometimes that when I die and meet with God,
That He will say I disappointed Him,
Or offended him, or failed Him.
Maybe He'll say I just never learned the lesson,
Or that I wasn't grateful enough.
But one thing I know for sure is this:
He can never say that He did not know me.
I am God's downstairs neighbor,
Banging on the ceiling with a broomstick.
I show up at His door every day.
Sometimes with songs,
Sometimes with curses.
Sometimes apologies, gifts, questions, demand.
Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in.
Other times, I sulk outside until He opens the door to me, Himself.
I have called Him a cheat and a liar,
And I meant it.
Tears have been the only prayer I know.
Prayers roll over my nostrils and drip down my forearms.
They fall to the ground as I reach for Him.
These are the prayers I repeat night and day;
Call me bitter if you want to - that's fair.
Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened.
But count me also among the friends of God.
For I have seen Him in rare form.
I have felt His exhale, laid in His shadow,
Squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout:
"I'm sad too".
If an explanation would help,
He would write me one - I know it.
But maybe an explanation would only start an argument between us -
And I don't want to argue with God.
I want to lay in a hammock with Him
And trace the veins in His arms.
I remind myself that I'm praying to the God
Who let the Israelites stay lost for decades.
They begged to arrive in the Promised Land,
But instead He let them wander,
Answering prayers they did not pray.
For forty years, their shoes didn't wear out.
Fire lit their path each night.
Every morning, He sent them mercy-bread from Heaven.
I look hard for the answers to the prayers that I didn't pray.
I look for the mercy-bread
That He promised to bake fresh for me each morning.
The Israelites called it "manna",
Which means "What is it?"
That's the same question I'm asking - again, and again.
There's mercy here somewhere -
But what is it?
What is it? What is it?
I see mercy in the dusty sunlight that outlines the trees,
In my mother's crooked arms,
In the blanket my friend left for me,
In the harmony of the wind chimes.
It's not the mercy that I asked for,
But it is mercy nonetheless.
And I learn a new prayer: Thank you.
It's a prayer I don't mean yet,
But I will repeat til I do.
Even on days when I'm not so sick,
Sometimes I go lay on the mat in the afternoon light
To listen for Him.
I know it sounds crazy,
And I can't really explain it,
But God is in there - even now.
I have heard it said that some people can't see God
Because they won't look low enough,
And it's true.
God is on the bathroom floor.
If you can't see Him, look lower.
Original script here.
Watch her incredible performance on America's Got Talent here.
To read more about this indomitable woman, see here.
CALL TO ACTION
Nightbirde's incredible story throughout her fight with cancer reinforces for the resilience of women for me. But that resilience should not be unwarranted and unnecessary, if we can help it.
Breast Cancer accounts for 31% of total female cancers with the age-adjusted incidence of 47/100,000 in Asia-Pacific (2021) and the risk of Breast cancer has increased from 1 in 22 women, to 1 in 8 women over the years.
Breast cancer was the most common type of cancer among females in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for 18% of all cases in 2012.
Research states "It is anticipated that incidence rates of breast cancer in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region will continue to increase".
"Early detection and access to optimal treatment are the keys to reducing breast cancer-related mortality, but cultural and economic obstacles persist."
Our culture should not be an impediment to our access to medical services and we should help to work past the taboo of talking about one's health - especially those that are typical of women, like breast or cervical cancer.
"Breast cancer is now recorded as the second most common incidence of cancer in women after cervical cancer and is one of the top five causes of mortality in the region.
Women in the Pacific Islands are usually young while presenting with advanced breast cancer to the hospitals compared to women of the Pacific Islands living in Australia and New Zealand".
For us in Solomon Islands:
According to the latest WHO data (2018), Breast Cancer Deaths in Solomon Islands reached 42 or 1.66% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 24.79 per 100,000 of population ranks Solomon Islands #18 in the world.
This is a call to action to my peers: Get checked! Do your health screening done regularly - all of them! Please don't wait until it's too late.