Non-Binary Artist Creates Drag Persona to Cope with Cancer Battle

Jay Swinnerton, a non-binary artist, created the drag persona Shanika Sunrise to cope with Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. The character helped them survive and perform at the hospital that treated them.

author-image
TrimFeed Report
New Update
Non-Binary Artist Creates Drag Persona to Cope with Cancer Battle

Non-Binary Artist Creates Drag Persona to Cope with Cancer Battle

Jay Swinnerton, a 26-year-old non-binary artist from Manchester, created the drag persona Shanika Sunrise to cope with their treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma in 2017 and 2019. Swinnerton was first diagnosed with the cancer in 2017 and underwent chemotherapy, entering remission in September of that year. However, the cancer returned in 2018, and they had to undergo a bone marrow transplant in 2019.

During this difficult time, Swinnerton used the Shanika Sunrise persona as a "coping mechanism" and "creative way to process things." The character helped them get through the "challenging treatment" and feel like a "victor of their experience." Swinnerton feared they were "going to die many times" during their fight against cancer.

Thanks to a new immunotherapy drug at the Christie Hospital, Swinnerton achieved remission. They have since gone on to perform as Shanika Sunrise in countless gigs, including a concert at the Christie Hospital during the Christmas of 2023. Swinnerton returned to the hospital to do the concert for the nurses who supported them.

Why this matters: Swinnerton's story highlights the power of art and creativity in coping with serious illness. It also sheds light on the importance of supportive medical staff in a patient's cancer journey.

Swinnerton credits the Shanika Sunrise persona with helping them survive the cancer treatment, saying "I genuinely don't think I would have made it without her." The character provided a vital outlet and source of strength during Swinnerton's battle against Hodgkin lymphoma, which included multiple rounds of challenging treatment over several years before they ultimately achieved remission thanks to advanced immunotherapy at the Christie Hospital.

Key Takeaways

  • Jay Swinnerton, 26, created drag persona Shanika Sunrise to cope with Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Swinnerton underwent chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, and immunotherapy to achieve remission.
  • Shanika Sunrise helped Swinnerton process treatment and feel like a "victor" of their experience.
  • Swinnerton performed as Shanika Sunrise at the Christie Hospital to thank the supportive staff.
  • Swinnerton's story highlights the power of art and creativity in coping with serious illness.