In the fall of 2009, popular Chicago urban radio personality, international recording artist and writer of the gospel hit songs “Life line,” “Use Me Lord,” and “Gospel Slide” Dana Divine had everything to look forward to. Her Sunday morning gospel radio show was going well, in a few weeks she would be departing for Hawaii with her husband. Then she learned she had breast cancer and within weeks she underwent a double mastectomy. In her first interview since her diagnosis, Dana Divine sat down with Final Call editorial assistant Melissa Muhammad to share her the triumphant story own how she is facing and attempting to overcome breast cancer.
Melissa Muhammad (FC): You’ve gone through something that more and more women are experiencing. You are a breast cancer survivor. Not every woman has such a favorable outcome.
Dana Divine (DD): You have to have the desire or will to live when you want to fight the disease. I have three small children. The kids started back right after school and once they started back it was back to business: drop off, pick up. They didn’t see me down too much, when they were away at school maybe I could sneak in a cry or two. Generally they didn’t see me sad or depressed or anything. I was doing everything. I didn’t slow down much. I had five songs before I had the surgery. I had the surgery December 17th and was back on the air Jan. 17th.
FC: How were you able to continue with your regular activities despite what you were going through?
DD: The Lord. You’ve got to. The prayers of the righteous. My name was everywhere. My in-laws went to the Wailing Wall; I was in Africa. I can’t think of all the places. The chemo makes you cloudy. Everybody is different. First I had the surgery then I had the chemo. I just finished it (chemo therapy) a little over a month ago. It’s amazing how your body comes back.
FC: You don’t even look like you have been through such a difficult thing.
DD: Praise to God, (It’s) because of the Lord, so I know that part of it is the testimony because you know whenever you go through something like that you try to figure out how you’re going to do it.
FC: Did you go through the “Why me?” phase?
DD: I was going through that last week. I was saying ‘why do I have to be scared for the rest of my life?’ But then I realized how I reacted. You often think about how you would react if you got some news like that, well I was surprised with myself on how probably well I handled it and I think probably as I am talking about it, by having as much of a regular routine as possible helped me because I’m a busy person, so I think that keeping the pace was important. I did good, I did good but the Lord kept me so, I was surprised how well I did myself. I didn’t freak out too much.
I had some days, of course I had some days. Overall I was pretty optimistic. I didn’t feel like I was going to die, never felt like that. I felt like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m getting ready to go through what?’ So it’s a journey. It’s not over that’s just the treatment part that’s done because there is still, obviously, I think more to the journey than just ‘this is the last day of treatment and your done.’ It’s not like that.
FC: What advice would you give to other women who are going through this or who just found out?
DD: God is good, God is good. I don’t know who could go through anything like this without your Higher Power, without your Allah, the Lord, your Buddha. You can’t go through anything like this without your Higher Power. Whoever it is you would need Allah, God, Jesus, Mary, and obviously we all know when we have conflicts or trials and crisis we turn in. I don’t want to be the one “Well only when it’s a crisis then I’m going to be obedient,” I just think it’s the whole walk, the same obedience and the discipline that you have all the time. Understanding that, and just that keeps your mind. There are some physical things that change that I’m just finding out like my reach span is very limited, tight and sore and you can’t reach and you’re still adjusting. Like when you are going through it, you have to make so many decisions, it’s just overwhelming.
FC: What were you doing when you found out, as far as plans? Were you recording another CD?
DD: On November 11th, which is also my daughter’s birthday, I got the call. And Nov. 19 we were going to Hawaii, my husband and I. (It was) something we had been planning. And when I went (to the doctor) when we started meeting with everybody, the surgeons, they (said) ‘go to Hawaii and have a good time and when you come back, we’ll have the surgery and deal with this.’ And I think that was the first (thought) “I’m going to live and be fine.” It wasn’t like “Could you tell your husband ‘Go bring your bags from home, we’re going straight to the surgery.’” It could have been like that.
FC: So it was important the way that the doctors broke the news to you.
DD: It was a very comprehensive program, very calm. She (the doctor) said ‘You’re gonna live.’ When she said that said ‘Ok, That’s what I want to hear.’ I think she did a great job, which means clean margins (the surgery), they didn’t have to go back in, that was a blessing. I see the Lord from the very beginning. From shaving under my arms, it wasn’t on my breast. It was under my arm, the lymph node. It was like a little pebble and I said, ‘what is this?’ It was right around my birthday and I was going for an annual anyway, I went to see (my doctor) he didn’t really feel anything but ‘I’ll give you an order’ and sure enough.
FC: Would you say the healing began once you got to Hawaii?
DD: Before the surgery my husband and I went to Hawaii. I say that’s really when my healing started. When I got there it was time. I ate wonderfully. The foods were fresh, the fruits were fresh, I would go out at night and let the tides suck out the cancer. Got my mind together, came back and got the surgery. I didn’t really have to take too many meds. Someone told me to ‘Let the Lord heal me up,’ instead of chemo and surgery. I believe in holistic medicine, but when you start dealing with cancer, God gave him the resources. I personally recommend a Western approach to cancer. You can’t skip it (chemotherapy).
FC: What advice would you give to women in general that have not had to deal with this and preventive measures?
DD: Early detection is the key. There are so many organizations that can help and offer free screenings, buy your mom a mammogram, but early detection is the key.
FC: Thank you.
DD: You’re welcome. God bless.