Faith Walker started her career as a professional musician when she was 14-years-old. By her early 20s, she had singles on the radio, videos on MuchMusic, and was a mom of two children. Life was good—she had just gone on her first vacation—but her path was about to change drastically.
She noticed some milk discharge, which was unusual since she wasn’t pregnant and her kids were in school by then. Her doctor sent her for a breast ultrasound, and she was told she would be notified if there was any news.
“I didn’t hear from them, so I assumed it was nothing and then three months later, I found a lump in my breast. At that point, I called again and they sent me for another ultrasound. When I went in for the results, my family doctor was like, ‘Yes, you still have a lump; it’s doubled in size.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean, still? I had one in the first place?’ So at that point, it was kind of a shock because I hadn’t been told I had one,” she said.
Despite her diagnosis missteps, Faith felt like she would be able to get through the next couple of years of chemo, radiation, a mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery. She put her music on hold and fought through the challenges. When she entered remission, she expected to just get back to her life.
But it’s not always that easy.
Three years later at the age of 30, she started feeling some severe back pain. Her medical team attributed it to her third baby pushing on a sciatic nerve. She continued to self-advocate and tried alternative healing methods. The pain got worse and worse, and then she fell when reaching for something and couldn’t get up. An MRI revealed she had fractured her spine because of tumours that had weakened it.
“I was six months pregnant at the time. They told me, ‘It means the cancer had metastasized to your bones, and we don’t know in terms of prognosis if you have a year or 20 years. All we’re going to do is to try and keep it from spreading to your organs,’” she said. “That diagnosis hit me way harder because I really thought I was done with cancer. I had paid my dues—why was this back?”
After another fall and another fracture, Faith’s team decided it was unsafe for her to continue the pregnancy any longer and her son was delivered at 27 weeks and just over 2 lbs. The next day, she had a nine-hour back surgery and spinal fusion, and spent the next three months in the hospital getting radiation and relearning how to walk.
She said, “I spent a whole season from September to December in the hospital and I came home in a wheelchair, very determined still. They asked at the hospital, ‘How are you going to take care of your kids? You have a son with autism; how are you going to manage?’ They just couldn’t see how I was going to do these things, and I was like, ‘Well, there are parents out there who are in wheelchairs and can take care of their children. I can do this.’”
She graduated from a wheelchair to a walker, and then to crutches before a cane. At that time, she was a single mom to three kids, living in a place with a lot of stairs, but she did it.
And she continues to defy the odds.
Faith has been living with metastatic breast cancer since 2008, which has now metastasized to her lungs and other places in her bones, and she’s about to have her tenth surgery. She has also refocused on her music career and has plans to release an album, but it’s different with cancer. She’s no longer just writing songs about love or other everyday things; she is using her music to inspire others.
“It’s really hard to plan with so many uncertainties with surgeries and what’s going on with your body, and I’m just going to do what I can with music while dealing with these health issues, as well. This time, I’m not going to put things on hold, I’m just going to keep going.”
Her latest inspirational project is the music video for the “Head In The Clouds Remix featuring Ray Robinson” which was released in spring 2019.
“I just had a vision of people sharing their stories and holding up a sign saying what their greatest challenge was in life, and then in the end, holding up a sign that showed their greatest blessing to come out of it,” she said. “I reached out to some friends and family members who I knew had a story to share. It’s pretty crazy to see some of the things they’ve faced in life and how they’ve made the most out of it. I feel like there’s a lot of stories that people can relate to.”
Sharing stories is a huge part of what Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) does to help our community members connect, whether it’s through our profiles section, community stories, or features like this one. Faith has participated in our Retreat Yourself and Survivor Conference programs and says connecting with YACC has been really valuable for finding resources and connections.
She also spends time volunteering with HopeSpring and performs and speaks in schools to teach the younger generation that they can go through anything and be resilient, and she makes sure to share her story through her social channels in case someone out there needs to hear it.
“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me saying they have stage IV cancer and they might have a prognosis that is very scary and they might feel there’s no chance for them to defy to odds, so sharing my story inspires a lot of people. That’s been really big for me.”