Cancer survivor sings his message of hope

December 1, 2011

"One day you're in control; then suddenly you're not," sings Charlie Lustman.

This year, Charlie Lustman has taken his message of hope and survival to cancer centers in Barcelona, Copenhagen, and 28 U.S. Cities. It was his first visit to Philadelphia.

"It's funny what a lot of pain can give," said Charlie. "A whole new meaning to the life we live."

In 2005, Charlie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, osteosarcoma of the upper jawbone.

"It is such a rare form of cancer; 1% of adult cancers are sarcomas, unfortunately, 15% of children's cancers are sarcomas," explained Charlie. "There wasn't much of a prognosis we're going to saw off your jaw."

Three-quarters of Charlie's upper jaw was removed.

"And they give you chemotherapy for a year, just in case it spread, and then tell you, we'll see," said Charlie.

He was fitted for a prosthetic jaw, but had to learn to eat, talk, and of course sing again.

"They called us back to say you see, those cells inside are cancer free," sang Charlie.

Charlie made it his mission to educate and inspire others.

"To be alive and to be singing, which I also sing with a group in my church, it's great," said James Johnson.

He wrote a pop opera about his experience and decided to give it a special ending.

"I'm going to give it a Hollywood ending, which means I survive, and I go out in the world and do something really special," Charlie said.

And so he has been spreading his message, reminding cancer patients everywhere, "Remember, it is mind, body and spirit. The mind and spirit are 2/3 of the formula of life, the rest is really up to you," said Charlie.

"It made me feel so good," said Ann Darling.

Charlie will be taking his "Musical Campaign of Hope" to Nairobi for World Cancer Day in February.

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