Chicago singer Dana Divine talks about her battle with breast cancer

SHARE Chicago singer Dana Divine talks about her battle with breast cancer

If you’ve clapped, stepped and stomped to the Gospel Slide—two times to the right, two times to the left, throw your hands up, now stomp that devil down — you know Dana Divine.

Divine, a Chicago singer, WVON radio personality, Billboard charting recording artist and TV and radio show host, was stunned when her regular mammogram revealed that she had breast cancer.

She was living a full life. She and her husband, a networking engineer, were raising their three children—two daughters and a son. When she learned of her diagnosis, Divine was putting the finishing touches on her older daughter’s 13th birthday bash.


Provided | Dana Divine

That was 13 years ago. Though Divine quickly returned to performing, touring and writing hits, she went through 16 rounds of chemotherapy, had a double mastectomy and endured repeat infections when she had saline implants during breast reconstruction surgery.

She lost her hair and eyebrows, but discovered—for a short time—that she enjoyed wearing wigs and false eyelashes.

Divine, who grew up in south suburban Park Forest and now lives in Hyde Park, had a regular mammogram when she was in her twenties, followed by yearly mammograms since. Four months before her diagnosis, Divine’s doctor had noticed a more solid mass than usual and started testing her every six months instead of every 12 months.

“I had no great fear [prior to the cancer diagnosis],” she said. “I had had regular screenings.”

Divine’s abiding faith and musical creativity helped steel her throughout her cancer diagnosis and its aftermath.

“The day I got the news, I had just recorded a new song,” she said. “I knew that I was going to be fine. The Lord gave me the lyrics. It’s a Christian House song. It’s upbeat. I thought, ‘OK, God’s got me. He’s not through with me yet. I have more great songs to write and share.’”

Divine also appreciates that she has healthcare insurance, convenient transportation to medical care and a dedicated doctor who knew her medical history and made time to see her.

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Yet she had to remind herself to pay attention to what she was experiencing.

“In retrospect, [right before the cancer diagnosis], I had a BO under my arm that I could not explain. It was a pungent funk under my one arm,” Divine said. “Three months after my surgery, it was gone. It turned out that one of my lymph nodes was infected.”

That’s why she advises women to listen to and pay attention to their bodies, learn their families’ medical histories and take advantage of services like those offered at Equal Hope

Equal Hope is a not-for-profit organization that offers women from underserved communities free mammograms and free cervical screenings. They also walk women through their first appointments.

Breast cancer doesn’t have to be a topic of inequity, Divine says. “It’s been so researched and there are so many effective treatment options,” she says. “You just have to get to the darn doctor” on a regular basis.

Divine discusses health inequities on WVON (1690 AM)—The Talk of Chicago —at 11 a.m. every Saturday and on the FM Omni-Channel (95.1 FM)—The Heartbeat of Soul —at 8 a.m. each Sunday.

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