Chelsea feared cancer drug would take her voice away
A NAMBOUR-born singer has made the iTunes charts with a debut single named after the very thing that threatened to take her voice.
Vincristine is a chemotherapy medication that was used to treat Chelsea Stutchbury when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma about two years ago.
But one of the of the treatment's side-effects is that it can alter the patient's voice.
The aspiring singer was losing strength in her voice when she penned the lyrics to the song during the last month of her treatment.
"Because at that stage, I'd been hit with about six doses of chemotherapy. It was in my mind, would my voice ever get better?" she said.
"When I sing, 'Will you come home to me' and you might think it's a relationship I'm singing about, but I'm talking to my voice, asking whether or not it will come back to me."
Chelsea was in her final year of school when she was diagnosed with cancer, although in hindsight her first symptom had appeared three months earlier when she came home with swollen ankles after a dinner to celebrate her 17th birthday.
She was originally diagnosed with a kidney condition, which initially responded to steroid treatment. But when that failed, further investigation led doctors to discover a mass in her chest.
After treatment she was given the all clear, although she does have maintenance treatments every two months to make sure she stays that way.
During her cancer days, Chelsea was able to meet singer Katie Perry through an executive at Telstra, which was sponsoring her concerts.
The same contact happened to have at one stage shared a flat with the musical director for The Voice Australia, Scot Aplin, who ended up co-writing Vincristine with Chelsea and playing piano on the single.
The song, released on February 2, has made number 98 on the Australia iTunes charts.
Chelsea, who did her schooling in Bundaberg and now studies at the Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, was back on the Coast this week to visit her father.
She said she had been thinking about calling her single Come Home before settling on Vincristine.
"I decided to go with something more specific. A lot of people who have had the drug recognise the name," she said.
Chelsea has donated 100% of the proceeds towards cancer research, a generous gesture for a student making her first foray into the music charts, but she is committed to her decision to give it all away.
"If it wasn't for cancer research, I wouldn't be here. It's very close to my heart. I want to give it all."