How My Battle With Cancer Led Me To Discover My Passion For Music And Art
DJ and contemporary artist Quiana Parks shares how a low point helped her reach inspiring highs.
January 07, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Hitting rock bottom can have different positive outcomes for people. Some of my favorite people have overcome the biggest obstacles, using their negative experiences to inspire and motivate them for the better. For me? My creativity heightened, my passion started to triumph over my doubts and I realized that my trials and tribulations were my testimony.
My name is Quiana Parks — a 13 year cancer survivor, a queer black woman and someone who has fought more battles than I can count. I use my platform to tell the world “I’ve been there, I got through it and you can, too.” During the day, I’m an artist and I use my paintings to express myself visually and tell my story. By night I’m a DJ, using music to make people feel good and have the time of their lives.
After years of being miserable and living in fear that my cancer would return, I learned a lesson that would change my life forever — I am the only one that can make me happy, and my love for DJing led me to that. Upon my cancer going into remission, my doctor told me there was a 90 percent chance that the cancer could return. As a result, I found myself suffering from depression and feeling worthless, as if it didn’t matter if I was here or not and that there was no point in being happy when sadness was around the corner.
A lot of the time music was one of the things that helped to lift me out of those dark places, and it took me almost eight years after going into remission to realize that DJing was something I wanted to do. After my first experience in the DJ booth, I recognized how good it made me feel and once I started to pursue it professionally, I found that I was starting to feel like I had a purpose. Playing songs and watching people dance, seeing the smiles come across their faces and the excitement run through them when I play their favorite song is a feeling like no other. Behind the turntables was where I needed to be, so that’s exactly where I put myself.
I’ve always considered myself a creative person, I used to always find myself drawing, and even went to school for it, but never in a million years did I think that’d I’d be doing it for a living. When I was going through my treatment, my cousin, Sharon, bought me a canvas and brushes and encouraged me to use it as my diary. This was a turning point in my life where I really used my art to portray all the things I was going through. In turn, my art became very personal, so personal that I didn’t want to share it with the world because it made me feel vulnerable. One of my favorite paintings is of my best friend, Latoya, combing my hair after it started falling out from the cancer treatment. It was one of the most difficult things I did and even cried while painting it, recreating the moment on canvas.
It wasn’t until I did my first show at Art Basel in Miami that I committed to really sharing my art. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, so I put every last penny I had into that show and every moment of it was amazing. I met new people, got support from my friends and even sold paintings, which made me realize how important it was for people to connect to my art and see themselves in each piece.
I know now that time, prayer, therapy, love and encouragement from people around me, art, music and a good fall to the bottom healed my fear. The low times in my life is what gave me the strength the climb to my highs. Those trials inspired me and those tribulations motivated me to believe in myself and encourage others. When you're faced with that darkness, always keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel. Keep in mind that this a part of your victory story. Tap into your passions, the things that make you happy, and dive deep into it until that’s all you can see. Believe in yourself and know that when you’re in the driver’s seat nothing is impossible. Know that there isn’t a mountain high enough or a valley low enough that can come between you and your happiness.
Here's a playlist I created to help you on your journey!
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