My name is Joshua Bell. I graduated high school during the pandemic of 2020.
I was born in 2002. My cancer journey started when I was a toddler of 18 months old. My mother felt some strange swelling around my glands. She took me to the local GP, who said my symptoms could be harmless, but they gave my mum the option to pursue the issue further with a specialist. After a haze of tests and scans, we found out that I had liver cancer.
I underwent surgery and chemotherapy to destroy the cancer living inside my body. After 6 months of treatment, the cancer was gone, and I was declared in remission. In the process, the treatment weakened my immune system and left me vulnerable to illness.
Years later, I noticed I was falling sick far more easily than the other kids. My constant illness resulted in time off school, to a point where the Department of Education was threatening to punish my parents. The system couldn’t adapt to or even understand that I was different from the other kids.
I designed a bandanna for Canteen titled the ‘Steez’ bandanna, named after hip hop artist Method Man’s portmanteau of ‘style’ with ‘ease’.
Music is the love of my life. Canteen’s ‘Side of Stage’ initiative allowed me to view my favourite poet, Thebe Kgositsile, live in concert. I hope to see Tyler, the Creator perform before I die.
Hip hop bears the language I desperately needed to express my upbringing with cancer. Like Roddy Ricch, I was a ‘War Baby’, fighting for my life in the trenches of chemotherapy.