For many people, music is more than just a casual pastime, more than something to enhance a social gathering or a mere combination of sounds serving as background noise to accompany someone’s daily routine. For many, music is what gets us through dark times and is the catalyst that breathes life into our identity and purpose. It has been said by both music artists and diehard fans that “music is therapy.”
For April Samuels, that statement takes on a true and profound meaning. April is a 20+ year professional drummer, breast cancer survivor, and founder of the powerful nonprofit organization Breast Cancer Can Stick It, based in her hometown of Dallas, Texas.
“A lot of people I know don’t have a passion in their lives. This is my passion and I live for it every single day. I really do,” the organization founder says. With bright pink hair and an enthusiastic “larger than life” personality, April has been a key figure in the music community and a strong advocate for women in the fight against breast cancer.
Her journey in music began early when she got her very first pair of drum sticks at the age of 5, then began taking drum lessons at only 11 years old. Embracing music throughout her life, she played drums for the 80’s Metal cover band Metal Shop. She has co-written songs for Discovery Channel’s Outward Bound.
April’s long list of accomplishments and unbreakable sense of self did not come without tremendous personal struggle. In April of 2010, her world would be turned upside down with devastating news: “It was a Tuesday at 9:00 AM in the morning and my phone rang. My doctor said, I can’t really believe it, but you have breast cancer. It’s what’s called triple negative breast cancer, and it’s high grade.” April recounts that through a series of doctor visits, she quickly learned the severity of her diagnosis. According to her doctor, her form of breast cancer was aggressive and as bad as it could be.
An aggressive form of breast cancer called for the treatment to be equally aggressive if April was to have a fighting chance to beat it. April opted for a double mastectomy paired with four long months of chemotherapy. During this extremely dark time, April remembers what it was life to be faced with the thought of her own mortality: “I looked at my dog, and she was about 12 or 13 years old at the time. I thought she might outlive me. That was just shocking, to think that my dog could outlive me.” She continues, “I think any time someone is diagnosed with cancer, they just automatically think they are gonna die, and soon. That’s how I felt.”
In the wake of this tragedy, April uncovered her deeper calling and purpose. She found a new way to combine her love for drums and music with her newfound mission of “stick’n it” to breast cancer. April shares, “Literally within ten days of being diagnosed, I decided I wanted to be the biggest advocate I could in the fight against breast cancer. I came up with the slogan breast cancer can stick it, combining my passion for drumming and my passion for fighting breast cancer.”
With that dawning realization, “Breast Cancer Can Stick It” immediately began selling t-shirts and raising funds in the fight against the dreaded disease of breast cancer. Since its founding in 2010, Breast Cancer Can Stick It has built a big coalition that is passionate towards both music and the cause. They remain 100% volunteer. Through annual events called “drummathons,” the organization has been able to raise funds for mammograms, research and trials, and financial assistance for breast cancer treatment. April has also been able to mobilize several heavy hitters in the music industry to make appearances at events and come through with endorsement deals for the cause.
Lori Peters-George (former drummer of Skillet and breast cancer survivor), Jimmy D’Anda of Bullet Boys, Rikki Rocket of Poison, and leading man Brett Michaels of Poison, have been just a few of the influential music artists who have shown unwavering support for Breast Cancer Can Stick It. The celebrity support of the organization continues to help amplify the mission. Since 2010, Breast Cancer Can Stick It has raised over $300K in the fight against breast cancer. In 2020, the organization continues to host online drummathons to keep the mission going despite COVID-19.
The movement continues to expand and serve as a dynamic force to combat breast cancer in a new and cutting-edge way. April announced this year on the organization’s website her own 10 years celebration of being breast cancer free.
To get involved in the cause and help Breast Cancer Can Stick It raise more awareness and funds to end breast cancer, visit the official website breastcancercanstickit.org. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
You can also hear a song inspired by Lori Peters-George’s victory over breast cancer by listening to “Saved the Day” by Emerald Escape.
This article contributed by Matt Sassano.