The Importance of Music in Surviving illness; Jessica Sanchez’ Dreamgirls Song
Jessica Sanchez recently started recording her first album. And now, I’m writing about the American Idol runner-up’s rendition of Dream Girls’ song, And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going Nowhere because when I was down, it inspired me. (You can see why in the videos below.) You should have an anthem, a song that reminds you that will survive all the madness. Music can help us find freedom despite chronic pain and fatigue.
Watch Jessica Sanchez’ Breathtaking Performance Here
A few months ago, Jessica performed the aforementioned number and received a standing ovation. While I loved the 2006 movie, the song suddenly took on a different meaning for me. Here was this 16-year old girl, often underestimated, now getting recognition for her talent.
I thought: She’s a fighter. She’s fought all her life—harsh circumstances and racist critics (stuff like “She can’t be a star because she’s Asian” or “Who is this undercover Mexican?” I’m a fighter too. This is my song. To my autoimmune disease, ovarian disease, and respiratory problems I say: I’m Not Going Nowhere. I’ve been sick for years and by God’s grace, I’m still standing (albeit with a cane, but I’m still here)!
How Jennifer Hudson First Inspired Me
My first exposure to this song was Jennifer Hudson’s Academy Award winning performance in the 2006 film version of Dream Girls. Two years later in October 2008, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis and hospitalized. I was in critical condition with a disturbingly high antibody teter count (0 is normal but my count was 625!). After enduring seven sessions of plasmapheresis, I was released from the hospital on October 24, 2012. The doctor gave me a 50/50 shot of living. After weeks of not watching television (I’m a news junkie, by the way), I turned on the news. I learned that former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson was living a nightmare. Her brother and mother were found dead and her nephew was kidnapped. A few days later, his dead body was found in an abandoned car. I thought: Some people think that having three illnesses (at the time I only had three major ones) is the worst thing in life. But what about Jennifer Hudson? What’s she going through? What would I ever do if anything like that happened to me? Could I handle losing my family?
Months later, Jennifer Hudson sang the National Anthem at the Superbowl and won several Grammys. I’ll never forget the standing ovation she received at the Grammy’s. I wondered, How does she do it? In an interview with Oprah, she talked about how God carries her through. As a fellow believer, I am encouraged by her faith. If she can do it, why can’t I?
Jennifer Holliday and Jessica Sanchez Bring the Roof Down
In April, I was watching the season finale of American Idol. I was wowed by the duet between Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday, the original Dreamgirl. They sang And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going Nowhere. (Thirty years ago, Holliday won a Tony and a Grammy for her performance.) I later learned that Holliday has Multiple Sclerosis, a sister autoimmune disease of my illness! Whenever I watch this video, I think: Well, I guess she not going nowhere. And neither am I. I don’t know how long I have to live—whether I make it to 40 or 80, but I know I’ll never stop fighting.
What’s your message to your illness(es)? What’s your anthem? Who inspires you?
–Your Cancer & Autoimmune Stylist, Jessica Gimeno